A review of experimental literature on alcohol´s motivational effects and its modulation by biological and environmental factors
Alcohol is probably the most consumed psychoactive drug in the world. Controlled consumption of alcohol is common, but for many individuals this consumption becomes an addiction. The progression from an habitual consumption of alcohol to abuse of the substance could be due to the existence of a differential sensitivity, which would be genetically determined, to the reinforcing and aversive effects of alcohol. Likewise, it has been suggested that environmental factors such as stress might be involved in the onset of alcoholism, influencing on such a differential sensitivity and, ultimately, on the consumption of alcohol. In this paper it is reviewed the experimental published data on each of the elements of the relationship between stress and ethanol. Thus, on the one hand they are reviewed the main animals models of stress and, on the other hand, we approached the study of the reinforcing and aversive properties of ethanol, including data on the influence of variables such as age, gender, and previous experience with the drug. And, finally, we present a resume of data collected from animal research on the influence of stress on the perception of the motivational opposing properties of ethanol. Our purpose is help to clarify the existing knowledge about the relations between biological factors (such as sex or age) and environmental factors (previous experience and stress), and the behavior of alcohol intake, thus highlighting the importance of some factors of risk for developing alcoholism.
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