The role of mesocorticolimbic dopamine in regulating interactions between drugs of abuse and social behavior

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2011 Jan;35(3):498-515. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.06.004. Epub 2010 Jun 23.


The use of addictive drugs can have profound short- and long-term consequences on social behaviors. Similarly, social experiences and the presence or absence of social attachments during early development and throughout life can greatly influence drug intake and the susceptibility to drug abuse. The following review details this reciprocal interaction, focusing on common drugs of abuse (e.g., psychostimulants, opiates, alcohol and nicotine) and social behaviors (e.g., maternal, sexual, play, aggressive and bonding behaviors). The neural mechanisms underlying this interaction are discussed, with a particular emphasis on the involvement of the mesocorticolimbic dopamine system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Limbic System / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Social Behavior*
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / metabolism
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / pathology


  • Dopamine