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, 33 (6), 795-807

At the Intersection of Alcohol Use Disorder and Chronic Pain


At the Intersection of Alcohol Use Disorder and Chronic Pain

Nasim Maleki et al. Neuropsychology.


Objective: Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and chronic pain are widespread conditions with extensive public health burden. This review seeks to describe neuroanatomical links and major mediating influences between AUD and chronic pain, in the service of identifying factors that predict the risk of chronic pain in precipitating or facilitating AUD.

Method: We review the neural bases of pain and the influence of AUD on processes involved in pain perception. We propose potential mechanisms involved in the development of chronic pain in AUD, and we consider implications for pain management in recovery from AUD.

Results: Pain is a multidimensional and subjective experience that, in its acute form, is essential for survival, but in chronic form, pain is a disorder that negatively impacts quality of life. Neural substrates involved in initiating and maintaining chronic pain include dysfunction in descending pain pathways and reward network circuitry. AUD involves preoccupation or craving, intoxication, withdrawal, and negative affect. Neural substrates of AUD involve widespread mesocorticolimbic and cerebrocerebellar networks. Both conditions involve dysfunction of extended reward and oversight circuitry, particularly prefrontal cortex.

Conclusions: The interrelationship between chronic pain and AUD resides in the intersection of etiological influences, mental experiences, and neurobiological processes. Characterization of the connection between brain and behavioral abnormalities in AUD's precipitation of chronic pain-and vice versa-allows for early detection and treatment of patients at risk for developing either or both of these conditions and for preemptive interventional approaches to reduce the risk of consequent vulnerabilities and harm. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

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