Shared Mechanisms of Alcohol and Other Drugs

About the Course:

Identifying the changes that occur in the brain as a result of alcohol and other drug (AOD) use is important to understanding the development of AOD addiction. Most drugs interact with binding molecules (i.e., receptors) for specific neurotransmitters and either block or facilitate binding at these receptors. Thus, cannabis and opiates act via receptors intended for internally derived (i.e., endogenous) cannabinoid and opiate substances. In contrast, alcohol does not appear to activate specific receptors. However, alcohol influences the activity of many transmitter systems.

Journal/Publisher:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Publication Date:

Volume 31, Number 2, 2008

Authors

Michal Bajo, Ph.D., and Paul Schweitzer, Ph.D.; Marisa Roberto, Ph.D.; Maureen T. Cruz, Ph.D.

About the Authors:

Michal Bajo, Ph.D., is an associate researcher and Paul Schweitzer, Ph.D., is an associate professor, both in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California.

Marisa Roberto, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Committee on Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California; researcher at the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Research, La Jolla, California, and researcher at the Harold L. Dorris Neurological Research Institute, La Jolla, California.

Maureen T. Cruz, Ph.D., is an associate researcher in the Committee on Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, California.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially addiction counselors, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, and nurses who seek knowledge about shared mechanisms of alcohol and other drugs. It is appropriate for intermediate to advanced levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Discuss neuraodaptation as it applies to addiction, and the action of alcohol on y-aminobutyric acid (GABA) transmission.

  2. Explain the opioid and endogenous cannabinoid systems and their relationship to addictive behavior.

  3. Describe the interaction between alcohol and the opioid and CB1 systems as well as the interaction of the opioid and cannabinoid systems.

Exam Questions

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