The Brain Disease Model of Addiction

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For the foreseeable future, the main objective of imaging in addiction research is not to diagnose addiction, but rather to improve our understanding of mechanisms that underlie it. The hope is that mechanistic insights will help bring forward new treatments, by identifying candidate targets for them, by pointing to treatment-responsive biomarkers, or both [52]. Developing innovative treatments is essential to address unmet treatment needs, in particular in stimulant and cannabis addiction, where no approved medications are currently available.

biological model of addiction

A gene may have all kinds of different biological possibilities but only actually “express” a few. But outside factors can act as catalysts, working to flip genetic switches that can turn other aspects of a gene’s DNA on and off. It contains thousands of paper examples on a wide variety of topics, all donated by helpful students. You can use them for inspiration, an insight into a particular topic, a handy source of reference, or even just as a template of a certain type of paper. Getting the right treatment for your child is a process, and navigating the current system requires determination and careful review.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Brain Research

For designing policies, such as taxation and regulation of access, economics and public administration provide the most pertinent perspectives, but these also benefit from biological and behavioral science insights. A common criticism of the notion that addiction is a brain disease is that it is reductionist and in the end therefore deterministic [81, 82]. As indicated above, viewing addiction as a brain disease simply states that neurobiology is an undeniable component of addiction. A reason for deterministic interpretations may be that modern neuroscience emphasizes an understanding of proximal causality within research designs (e.g., whether an observed link between biological processes is mediated by a specific mechanism). That does not in any way reflect a superordinate assumption that neuroscience will achieve global causality. On the contrary, since we realize that addiction involves interactions between biology, environment and society, ultimate (complete) prediction of behavior based on an understanding of neural processes alone is neither expected, nor a goal.

  • For example, early life adversity has been linked to altered brain structure and function [141, 142].
  • To resolve this question, it is critical to understand that the ability to choose advantageously is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon, but rather is about probabilities and their shifts, multiple faculties within human cognition, and their interaction.
  • His friends know it, his parents know it, and even his boss is beginning to suspect that Ricky is addicted to alcohol and drugs.
  • This was later also found to be the case for heroin [103], methamphetamine [104] and alcohol [105].
  • Addiction is estimated to affect 10-15% or more of the adult population, including physicians.

Were that the intended meaning in theories of addiction—which it is not—it would clearly be invalidated by observations of preserved sensitivity of behavior to contingencies in addiction. Indeed, substance use is influenced both by the availability of alternative reinforcers, sober house and the state of the organism. The roots of this insight date back to 1940, when Spragg found that chimpanzees would normally choose a banana over morphine. However, when physically dependent and in a state of withdrawal, their choice preference would reverse [102].

Review articleBiological Contributions to Addictions in Adolescents and Adults: Prevention, Treatment, and Policy Implications

For clinical purposes, those polygenic scores will of course not replace an understanding of the intricate web of biological and social factors that promote or prevent expression of addiction in an individual case; rather, they will add to it [49]. Meanwhile, however, genome-wide association studies in addiction have already provided important information. For instance, they have established that the genetic underpinnings of alcohol addiction only partially overlap with those for alcohol consumption, underscoring the genetic distinction between pathological and nonpathological drinking behaviors [50]. The ambiguous relationships among these terms contribute to misunderstandings and disagreements.

biological model of addiction

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