Is drug and alcohol addiction a disease of the brain? This theory continues to be in question, but a recent article published by The New England Journal of Medicine argues that it most certainly is.
Presented by addiction researchers Dr. A. Thomas McLellan, Treatment Research Institute Cofounder and Board Chair; Dr. Nora Volkow, National Institute on Drug Abuse Direction and Dr. George Koob.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Director. The article summarizes scientific advances. Also in the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders and how they relate to developments in public policy.
Addiction: A disease of the brain
In the United States, 810 percent of people at least 12 year sold which is roughly 22 million people are addicted to drugs or alcohol. The abuse of tobacco, alcohol and drugs costs more than $700 billion annually.
Including costs related to crime, lost work, productively, and health care. The concept of addiction being related to a brain disease continues to be questioned because the impulsive and compulsive behaviors and characteristics of an addict haven’t been tied to neurobiology.
In their research, the aforementioned doctors review recent advances in the neurobiology of addiction in an effort to clarify the link between addiction and brain function. To do this, they reviewed the following.
- of rewarding behavior, dampening the ability to feel pleasure and the motivation to partake in normal everyday activities.
- Increasing strength of reactions to stress, resulting in increased cravings for alcohol and other drugs and negative behavior when these cravings aren’t satiated.
- Weakening of the parts of the brain that execute decision making, control inhibitions, and self-regulations.
The researchers also considered the ways in which social environments, developmental stages and genetics are linked to vulnerability and recovery. For centuries, efforts to reduce addiction was to punish addicts. Rather than provide them with care (think: prison) that’s necessary when considering addiction as a disease of the brain.
It was concluded that neuroscience supports the brain disease model of addiction. This has led to the development of more effective methods of prevention and treatment as well as better informed public health policies. This is including the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act which requires medical insurance plans to provide the same coverage for substance use disorders and other mental illnesses.
Unfortunately, despite scientific evidence, the concept of addiction as a disease is constantly being questioned. The researchers of this article maintain that neuroscience research in this area will offer new opportunities. And help the prevention and treatment of addiction and related behavioral addictions.Tags: ASAM, CDC, disease of addiction, disease of alcoholism