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Addiction Science: From Molecules to Managed Care

Addiction is similar to other chronic diseases.

Addiction is like other diseases.. PET scans showing healthy versus diseased brain and health versus diseased heart

Using imaging technology to measure metabolism (in this case, glucose uptake) in the brain and heart, one can see that both addiction and heart disease produce observable changes in organ function. In each pair of images shown above, the healthy organ shows greater activity (reds and yellows) than the diseased organ. In drug addiction, the frontal cortex, which is a part of the brain associated with judgment and decision-making, is significantly affected. Like heart disease, drug addiction can be prevented and treated successfully. If left untreated, however, its effects can last a lifetime.

This page was last updated July 2008