Research & Resources

Understanding the connection between stress and alcohol use

Previous research shows stress can be a risk factor for drinking alcohol, binge drinking, and alcohol use disorder. However, mediating and moderating factors for stress are not well understood. In this article, scientists review and summarize key research to show what we know and what we still have to learn about the connection between stress and alcohol use disorder. They found that most research on this topic has been done using animals, and shows how the brain’s stress systems mediate the effects of stress on alcohol drinking. The scientists also explain how chronic alcohol exposure and individual stress-sensitivity affect alcohol use. They theorize that these brain systems may provide targets for medication development, and future research should examine some of these neural pathways more closely to gain further insight. The article “Behavioral interactions between stress and alcohol” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. It was published in Alcohol Research: Current Reviews.