Links between pain sensitivity and alcohol dependence
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Scientists have long wondered why some individuals are more sensitive to pain than others. While individual differences in pain have traditionally been discounted due to neuroticism, research has shown that individuals who are more sensitive to pain demonstrate real biological differences in pain perception (Coghill, McHaffie & Yen, 2003). However, individual differences in pain sensitivity remain under-explored in research and clinical settings that can provide further insights into clinical disorders such as addiction. The current research review is interested in examining the link between pain sensitivity and alcohol dependence. Investigating the relationship between pain sensitivity and alcohol addiction prompts many important peripheral questions such as whether increased pain sensitivity can serve as a useful biomarker for alcohol addiction, and how addiction to alcohol can cause changes in sensitivity to pain. Addiction potential or risk for addiction is a research area that is extremely important given that the high rate of addiction in this country is alarmingly high. The literature is sparse on the relationship between hyperalgesia or pain sensitization and risk for alcohol addiction. This literature review synthesizes current relevant research on pain and addiction, as well as addressing possible links between them.