The neuroscience of addiction

National Institute on Drug Abuse, USA.
Nature Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 14.98). 12/2005; 8(11):1429-30. DOI: 10.1038/nn1105-1429
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: Addictive drugs remodel the brain's reward circuitry, the mesocorticolimbic dopamine (DA) system, by inducing widespread adaptations of glutamatergic synapses. This drug-induced synaptic plasticity is thought to contribute to both the development and the persistence of addiction. This review highlights the synaptic modifications that are induced by in vivo exposure to addictive drugs and describes how these drug-induced synaptic changes may contribute to the different components of addictive behavior, such as compulsive drug use despite negative consequences and relapse. Initially, exposure to an addictive drug induces synaptic changes in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). This drug-induced synaptic potentiation in the VTA subsequently triggers synaptic changes in downstream areas of the mesocorticolimbic system, such as the nucleus accumbens (NAc) and the prefrontal cortex (PFC), with further drug exposure. These glutamatergic synaptic alterations are then thought to mediate many of the behavioral symptoms that characterize addiction. The later stages of glutamatergic synaptic plasticity in the NAc and in particular in the PFC play a role in maintaining addiction and drive relapse to drug-taking induced by drug-associated cues. Remodeling of PFC glutamatergic circuits can persist into adulthood, causing a lasting vulnerability to relapse. We will discuss how these neurobiological changes produced by drugs of abuse may provide novel targets for potential treatment strategies for addiction.
    Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 02/2015; 8. DOI:10.3389/fncel.2014.00466 · 4.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The federal sentencing guidelines constrain decision makers' discretion to consider offenders' life histories and current circumstances, including their histories of drug use and drug use at the time of the crime. However, the situation is complicated by the fact that judges are required to take the offender's drug use into account in making bail and pretrial detention decisions and the ambiguity inherent in decisions regarding substantial assistance departures allows consideration of this factor. In this paper we build upon and extend prior research examining the impact of an offender's drug use on sentences imposed on drug trafficking offenders. We used data from three U.S. District Courts and a methodologically sophisticated approach (i.e., path analysis) to test for the direct and indirect (i.e., through pretrial detention and receipt of a substantial assistance departure) effects of an offender's drug use history and use of drug at the time of the crime, to determine if the effects of drug use varies by the type of drug, and to test for the moderating effect of type of crime. We found that although the offender's history of drug use did not affect sentence length, offenders who were using drugs at the time of the crime received longer sentences both as a direct consequence of their drug use and because drug use at the time of the crime increased the odds of pretrial detention and increased the likelihood of receiving a substantial assistance departure. We also found that the effects of drug use varied depending on whether the offender was using crack cocaine or some other drug and that the type of offense for which the offender was convicted moderated these relationships. Our findings illustrate that there is a complex array of relationships between drug use and key case processing decisions in federal courts.
    Journal of Quantitative Criminology 09/2014; 30(3):549-576. DOI:10.1007/s10940-014-9214-9 · 2.12 Impact Factor
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