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NIDA

Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says

2: Drug addiction: a complex illness

Computer-generated image of a brain

Drug addiction is a complex illness. The path to drug addiction begins with the act of taking drugs. Over time, a person's ability to choose not to take drugs is compromised. This, in large part, is a result of the effects of prolonged drug use on brain functioning, and thus on behavior. Addiction, therefore, is characterized by compulsive drug craving, seeking, and use that persists even in the face of negative consequences.

This page was last updated January 2007