Neural and Psychosocial Mechanisms Underlying Alcohol Use and Pain Interactions: Overview of Current Evidence and Future Directions

Jeff Boissoneault, Bethany Stennett-Blackmon, Christina Gilmour, Shelby Blaes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose of Review: A growing body of research indicates bidirectional associations between alcohol use and pain. In this review, we highlight common neural and psychosocial mechanisms underlying pain and alcohol use and identify current gaps in the literature regarding alcohol/pain interactions. We also suggest future directions for the field moving forward, including more nuanced conceptualization of alcohol’s negative reinforcing effects in the context of pain, broader use of clinically relevant experimental pain induction modalities, and characterization of age, biological sex, gender, race, and ethnicity as moderators of pain/alcohol interactions. Recent Findings: Acute alcohol intake has analgesic and negative-reinforcing effects in the context of pain, and chronic heavy alcohol use appears to increase risk for development of chronic pain. At the same time, pain, both acute and chronic, acts as a proximal antecedent for alcohol use and is associated with relapse risk for individuals in recovery from alcohol use disorder. Summary: Although the links between alcohol use and pain are increasingly appreciated, significant gaps in understanding remain and systematic study of alcohol/pain interactions at all levels, including basic, preclinical, translational, and interventional, is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)677-689
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Addiction Reports
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Keywords

  • Acute pain
  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Self-management

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