Neuropeptide Y (NPY) is a neuromodulator that is widely expressed throughout the central nervous system (CNS) and which is cosecreted with classic neurotransmitters including GABA and glutamate. There is a long history of research implicating a role for NPY in modulating neurobiological responses to alcohol (ethanol) as well as other drugs of abuse. Both ethanol exposure and withdrawal from chronic ethanol have been shown to produce changes in NPY and NPY receptor protein levels and mRNA expression in the CNS. Importantly, manipulations of NPY Y1 and Y2 receptor signaling have been shown to alter ethanol consumption and self-administration in a brain region-specific manner, with Y1 receptor activation and Y2 receptor blockade in regions of the extended amygdala promoting robust reductions of ethanol intake. Similar observations have been made in studies examining neurobiological responses to nicotine, psychostimulants, and opioids. When taken together with observations of potential genetic linkage between the NPY system and the human alcohol abuse disorders, NPY represents a promising target for treating problematic alcohol and drug use, and in protecting individuals from relapse during abstinence.