Neuroscience

Breaking the stress and drug abuse connection

When people undergo stress, some turn to alcohol or other drugs to help them cope. Most of us, certainly, have had the experience of cracking open a beer to relax at the end of a tough day. But in cases of extreme or long-term ...

Neuroscience

Brain research reveals a circuit for cocaine relapse

Approximately 1.5 million Americans use cocaine in a given year, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Many are repeat users. Unfortunately, there are currently no FDA-approved medicinal treatments for cocaine ...

Health

Keep e-cigs away from youth to win war against tobacco

(HealthDay)—Making sure electronic cigarettes don't get into the hands of youngsters is the key to beating tobacco use and nicotine addiction in the United States, a new American Heart Association policy statement says.

Neuroscience

Smoking and alcohol: Double trouble for the brain?

Along with many other harmful health consequences, smoking tobacco causes chemical changes, oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. Excessive alcohol use can have similar effects. Surprisingly, however, very few studies ...

page 1 from 23

Addiction

The term "addiction" is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive psychological dependence, such as: drug addiction (e.g. alcoholism), video game addiction, crime, money, work addiction, compulsive overeating, problem gambling, computer addiction, nicotine addiction, pornography addiction, etc.

In medical terminology, an addiction is a chronic neurobiologic disorder that has genetic, psychosocial, and environmental dimensions and is characterized by one of the following: the continued use of a substance despite its detrimental effects, impaired control over the use of a drug (compulsive behavior), and preocupation with a drug's use for non-therapeutic purposes (i.e. craving the drug). Addiction is often accompanied the presence of deviant behaviors (for instance stealing money and forging prescriptions) that are used to obtain a drug.

Tolerance to a drug and physical dependence are not defining characteristics of addiction, although they typically accompany addiction to certain drugs. Tolerance is a pharmacologic phenomenon where the dose of a medication needs to be continually increase in order to maintain its desired effects. For instance, individuals with severe chronic pain taking opiate medications (like morphine) will need to continually increase the dose in order to maintain the drug's analgesic (pain-relieving) effects. Physical dependence is also a pharmacologic property and means that if a certain drug is abruptly discontinued, an individual will experience certain characteristic withdrawal signs and symptoms. Many drugs used for therapeutic purposes produce withdrawal symptoms when abruptly stopped, for instance oral steroids, certain antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and opiates.

However, common usage of the term addiction has spread to include psychological dependence. In this context, the term is used in drug addiction and substance abuse problems, but also refers to behaviors that are not generally recognized by the medical community as problems of addiction, such as compulsive overeating.

The term addiction is also sometimes applied to compulsions that are not substance-related, such as problem gambling and computer addiction. In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user himself to his or her individual health, mental state or social life.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA