Alcohol use disorder (AUD) currently affects over 14M adults in the United States, with ~10% of college students reporting heavy alcohol use within the past month (NIAAA 2020). The students in PSYC350 Drugs & Behavior designed an experiment to address three major questions related to alcohol (ethanol) exposure in female mice. In Experiment 1, mice were exposed to an acute stressor or remained in their
homecage (no stress). All mice were then given a choice of regular water or 5-10% ethanol in their homecages for two weeks, using a standard two-bottle choice procedure. We hypothesized that stressed mice would consume more ethanol and prefer ethanol over water after the first and second week of alcohol exposure. In Experiment 2, mice with ethanol history and ethanol-naive mice were tested for
anxiety on an elevated plus-maze, 48hrs after ethanol exposure was discontinued. We hypothesized that mice with ethanol history would show higher anxiety levels than controls, consistent with mild ethanol withdrawal. In Experiment 3, mice with ethanol history and ethanol-naive mice were re-exposed to ethanol using the same two-bottle choice procedure. We hypothesized that mice with ethanol history would consume more ethanol than controls in this "relapse" like procedure. Preliminary analyses suggest that stress did not impact ethanol consumption, and ethanol history did not impact relapse-like behavior. Results have implications for the understanding and treatment of AUD, particularly in females, which are underexplored in drug- and brain-related research.