The identification of new and more effective treatments for alcohol abuse remains a priority. Alcohol intake activates glucocorticoids, which have a key role in alcohol's reinforcing properties. Glucocorticoid effects are modulated in part by the activity of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (11β-HSD) acting as pre-receptors. Here, we tested the effects on alcohol intake of the 11β-HSD inhibitor carbenoxolone (CBX, 18β-glycyrrhetinic acid 3β-O-hemisuccinate), which has been extensively used in the clinic for the treatment of gastritis and peptic ulcer and is active on both 11β-HSD1 and 11β-HSD2 isoforms. We observed that CBX reduces both baseline and excessive drinking in rats and mice. The CBX diastereomer 18α-glycyrrhetinic acid 3β-O-hemisuccinate (αCBX), which we found to be selective for 11β-HSD2, was also effective in reducing alcohol drinking in mice. Thus, 11β-HSD inhibitors may be a promising new class of candidate alcohol abuse medications, and existing 11β-HSD inhibitor drugs may be potentially re-purposed for alcohol abuse treatment.