Alcohol use disorder (AUD) affects millions of people each year and is heavily influenced by social networks. On the other hand, social networks are dramatically influenced by alcohol consumption. Understanding the interaction between sociality and alcohol consumption is important to prevent and treat AUD.
Rodent models have been useful to study the interaction between sociality and alcohol consumption. Traditionally the laboratory mouse and rat have been used as the main animal models of study. However, these traditional animal models are difficult to use to model human social relationships because they do not form strong social bonds with conspecifics. Therefore, our laboratory and others have used the prairie vole
(Microtus ochrogaster) to explore the interactions between sociality and alcohol use because prairie voles have high predictive validity for human social behaviors and will consume high levels of alcohol voluntarily.
The aim of this dissertation is to explore the relationship between alcohol use and sociality and further develop the prairie vole rodent model to study the efficacy of oxytocin as a pharmacotherapy for AUD.