Craving: What can be done to bring the insights of neuroscience, behavioral science and clinical science into synchrony

Roger Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations


Alcohol self-administration behavior is the common thread that is necessary to bring the insights of neuroscience, behavioral science and clinical science into synchrony around the concept of craving. Animal models should address the molecular and cellular changes that take place in behaviorally relevant brain regions of rats consequent to chronic self-administration of ethanol. Animal models can focus on the biology of the anticipatory state in alcohol preferring/consuming rats, as well as studies of the effects of possible medications on this state in the animal model, on actual alcohol consuming behavior, and on the residual effects of chronic alcohol on the non-human mammalian brain. In human studies of craving, cue-reactivity in the absence of the opportunity to drink alcohol does not have the same salience as cue-reactivity in which drinking is possible. Moreover, actual drinking behavior serves to validate self-reports of craving. Studies of limited alcohol self-administration in the laboratory are an essential element in screening new medications for the treatment of alcoholism. Studies to date suggest no adverse reaction to the participation of alcoholic subjects in limited alcohol self-administration studies, but the research community should continue to monitor carefully the outcomes of alcohol-dependent subjects who participate in this type of research, and efforts should always be made to encourage these subjects to enter active treatment. In outpatient clinical trials of new treatments for alcoholism, the assessment of craving should include queries regarding symptoms and signs of protracted abstinence such as sleep disturbances, as well as questions regarding situational craving. Field observations of alcoholics in their favorite drinking environments would contribute greatly to our understanding of the real-world phenomenology of craving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 6 2000


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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