Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter and several dopamine neuronal systems reach through many brain regions. One of these is the ’Reward pathway’ which is central to the brain reward system. Dopamine release in this system is involved in feelings of euphoria in response to natural rewards. Addictive drugs cause a powerful dopamine release, resulting in intense euphoric feelings. With long-term use, the dopamine system is exhausted, creating a dopamine deficit.
Human studies indicate that both pre- and postsynaptic aspects of basal dopamine neurotransmission are reduced in AUD. Further, reduced dopamine transmission has been associated with increased alcohol intake as well as increased craving and alcohol-cue reactivity in animal and human studies, respectively. These data suggest that by normalizing dopamine levels alcohol intake may be reduced.