Prior research suggests that binge drinking may increase people’s risk of developing alcohol use disorders (AUDs), especially adolescents and young adults. It is unclear whether different drinking patterns — for example, intermittent versus regular drinking -have a different impact on the compulsive drinking that characterizes people with AUDs. This study used rats to examine whether chronic intermittent alcohol access facilitates a transition to compulsive-like drinking.
Researchers gave rats access to either intermittent (binge) or continuous (stable) alcohol for five months, followed by chronic exposure to alcohol vapors. They then measured the rats’ escalation of alcohol intake and compulsive-like responses to alcohol.