Alcohol Reinforcement: Biobehavioral and Clinical Considerations

  • Roger E. Meyer
  • Zelig Dolinsky


When compared with stimulants, opioids, and barbiturates (Schuster and Thompson, 1969; Schuster and Villareal, 1968; Winger et al., 1983; Yanagita et al., 1969) in intravenous self-administration paradigms in monkeys and rats, ethanol is a relatively weak reinforcer. The delay in reinforcement associated with oral self-administration of ethanol further inhibits its reinforcing efficacy. A relatively prolonged period of exposure to frequent high doses of ethanol is necessary for the development of alcohol dependence in humans. In contrast, in vulnerable individuals, intravenous opiate self-administration, and intravenously self-administered or smoked cocaine are associated with the rapid development of dependence. The risk of developing alcohol dependence is strongly influenced by factors in the individual (e.g., genetics, temperament, psychopathology) and the environment (e.g., culture).


Alcohol Dependence Ethanol Consumption Brain Stimulation Reward Reward Threshold Blood Alcohol Concentration 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger E. Meyer
  • Zelig Dolinsky

There are no affiliations available

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