Consumption of substances of abuse is one of the principal factors in aggressive and violent behaviours, being proposed as a predisposing factor. Research into human aggression under controlled laboratory conditions highlights the dilemma of attempting to model the essential features of real-world violence. A critical challenge for these experimental approaches is to relate the laboratory measures of aggression to aggressive and violent acts outside the laboratory. It is also difficult to discern subtypes of human aggression with laboratory measurement techniques. In order to avoid the confusion associated with studies of substance abuse in humans, various animal models have been employed to study the relationship between the administration of drugs of abuse and aggressive behaviour. Among the different animal models, the most used are inter-male aggression, irritable aggression, isolation-induced aggression, maternal aggression, and the resident-intruder paradigm or territorial aggression. Animal studies can be of special interest because they allow the manipulation of variables that would otherwise be impossible to control in humans. Behavioural and neurobiological analyses of aggression in animal species contribute to the understanding of human violence and the development of therapeutic interventions. The present paper reviews the most important facts relating alcohol, cocaine, opiates and other drugs of abuse with aggression obtained using different animal models of agonistic behaviour.
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