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We evaluated cortisol response to buspirone in extended abstinent alcoholic patients to determine 5-HT1A receptor sensitivity in alcoholism. Alcoholic patients were inpatients with an extended abstinent period of at least 3 months. Alcoholics had a significantly lower cortisol level than did the normal controls from 60 min through to 150 min after administration of 30 mg buspirone. Our results show that cortisol response to buspirone was significantly decreased in alcoholic patients compared to normal controls, reflecting decreased 5-HT1A receptor sensitivity.