Studies in animals of alcohol-associated phenomena have begun to yield data which may provide a better understanding of human alcoholism. Four such phenomena, tolerance, dependence, hepatic damage and self-intoxication, have been demonstrated in both animals and man. The relationships among these phenomena, however, have not yet been determined in either human or nonhuman species. Tolerance to and physical dependence on alcohol have been clearly demonstrated in a number of animal species. The behavioral, physiological and biochemical correlates of tolerance and dependence are of considerable contemporary experimental interest. In particular, animal models of alcohol withdrawal signs will yield excellent preparations for the study of the management of problems associated with ethanol withdrawal in man. Chronic liver damage, a problem often associated with alcoholism, has been demonstrated in animals; however, it remains unclear whether the conditions necessary for its production are equivalent in animals and man. Through an approach based on operant conditioning, behavioral phenomena associated with ethanol-reinforced self-intoxication are being elucidated in animals and man. These findings provide a descriptive framework which could lead to a delimitation of the important variables that control ethanol intoxication in both animals and man; hence, new avenues for treatment and prevention of human alcoholism may be elaborated.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health