Dysregulation of pain neurocircuitry and neurochemistry has been increasingly recognized as playing a critical role in a diverse spectrum of diseases including migraine, fibromyalgia, depression, and PTSD. Evidence presented here supports the hypothesis that alcohol dependence is among the pathologies arising from aberrant neurobiological substrates of pain. In this review, we explore the possible influence of alcohol analgesia and hyperalgesia in promoting alcohol misuse and dependence. We examine evidence that neuroanatomical sites involved in the negative emotional states of alcohol dependence also play an important role in pain transmission and may be functionally altered under chronic pain conditions. We also consider possible genetic links between pain transmission and alcohol dependence. We propose an allostatic load model in which episodes of alcohol intoxication and withdrawal, traumatic stressors, and injury are each capable of dysregulating an overlapping set of neural substrates to engender sensory and affective pain states that are integral to alcohol dependence and comorbid conditions such as anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.