News of the WeekNeuroscience

Probing Alcoholism's 'Dark Side'

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Science  03 Sep 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5433, pp. 1473
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5433.1473

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NEW ORLEANS-- Alcoholics, it seems, may drink not just to feel good, but also to avoid feeling bad. At least that was the message delivered by new results on the brain chemistry of rats presented at the American Chemical Society meeting here last week. Work by a team of neuroscientists shows that in animals, brain levels of a neurotransmitter associated with stress responses skyrocket during withdrawal from alcohol. The finding buttresses a long-standing view that addicts take their drug of choice as a form of self-medication to prevent depression and stress.