Research & Resources

Alcohol-Endocannabinoid Interactions: Implications for Addiction-Related Behavioral Processes

This review summarizes recent studies exploring the interaction between alcohol exposure and changes in endocannabinoid signaling (i.e., when bioactive lipid molecules modulate signaling activity of physiological processes involved in pain, appetite, energy balance, stress/anxiety, immune signaling, and learning and memory) that may underlie the development of alcohol use disorder. The review discusses the effects of alcohol consumption on brain endocannabinoid signaling, including alcohol-based perturbations in endocannabinoid-mediated synaptic transmission, the modulation of alcohol-related behaviors by manipulating signaling elements of the endocannabinoid system, and the influence of dysregulated endocannabinoid function in promoting withdrawal-induced anxiety-like behavior. The review placed notable emphasis on studies exploring the possible therapeutic relevance of bolstering brain endocannabinoid tone at different stages of alcohol use disorder. This review is part of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s topic series on alcohol and cannabinoids (

This paper, “Alcohol-endocannabinoid interactions: Implications for addiction-related behavioral processes,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and published in the journal Alcohol research: Current reviews.

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