Neuroscience

Researchers learn how the brain decides what to learn

In order to learn about the world, an animal needs to do more than just pay attention to its surroundings. It also needs to learn which sights, sounds and sensations in its environment are the most important and monitor how ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Overcoming PTSD: Study reveals memory disruption drug target

Fight or flight, panic, trembling: Our brains are wired to ensure we respond instantly to fear. While that fear response may save our lives in the dangerous moment, at times people stay on high alert long after the threat ...

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 ...

Psychology & Psychiatry

Women's hormones play role in drug addiction, higher relapse rates

Women's hormonal cycles may not only make them more prone to drug addiction but also more affected by triggers that lead to relapse, a new Vanderbilt University study revealed. The findings are especially significant since ...

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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