Oxytocin is known for its role in birth, lactation, bonding and social relations. More and more researchers are demonstrating that oxytocin plays a direct modulating effect on the rewarding and entactogenic effects of drugs as well. The balance between the rewarding properties of social relations and external rewards (Tops, Buisman-Pijlman and Carter, 2012) such as alcohol and drugs can influence initiation of drug use, escalation of use and relapse. It is therefore very important for the addiction field to get a better understanding of the role oxytocin has in susceptibility to addiction and it’s possible use in treatment.
The paper will discuss the role of oxytocin in drug reward and addiction and then examines the role of oxytocin in aetiology of addiction and in treatment. Oxytocin is able to modulate important systems that are implicated in increased sensitivity to addiction, such as the mesolimbic dopamine system, HPA-axis, immune system. The paper discussed the different systems that are modulated by oxytocin and how this could increase or decrease susceptibility to drugs and effectiveness of treatment.