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NIDA and NIAAA commentary strongly supports brain disease model of addiction


July 29, 2015

Addiction is a complex disease of a complex brain; ignoring this fact will only hamper our efforts to find effective solutions through a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the underlying phenomena.

The brain disease model of addiction is strongly supported by scientific evidence, according to a commentary published today in The Lancet Psychiatry by NIDA Director Dr. Nora Volkow and NIAAA Director Dr. George Koob.

The two NIH Institute Directors point out that animal and human studies have shown that critical brain structures and behaviors are disrupted by chronic exposure to drugs and alcohol. These findings, along with ongoing research, are helping to explain how drugs and alcohol affect brain processes associated with loss of control, compulsive drug taking, inflexible behavior, and negative emotional states associated with addiction. Understanding these processes has already resulted in several effective medicines, as well as new and promising medication targets to treat drug and alcohol addiction. The authors add that this process of discovery within a disease framework has also led to the development of promising brain stimulation treatments and behavioral interventions, and has had a positive impact on public policy.

The commentary, co-authored by Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and George Koob, Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), was written in response to the Personal View article, by Wayne Hall and colleagues. NIDA and NIAAA are part of the National Institutes of Health.

Reference: “Brain disease model of addiction: why is it so controversial?” by Nora D. Volkow, M.D., Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse and George Koob, Ph.D., Director, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism published online July 29, 2015 in The Lancet Psychiatry. It will also appear in the August print issue of The Lancet Psychiatry journal.

For information on Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preface

For information on Neuroscience: Pathways to Alcohol Dependence: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA77/AA77.pdf (PDF, 1MB)

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245, or the NIAAA press office at NIAAAPressOffice@mail.nih.gov or 301-443-2857.

NIDA Press Office

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

NIH. . .Turning Discovery Into Health®

This page was last updated July 2015

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    NIDA (2015). NIDA and NIAAA commentary strongly supports brain disease model of addiction. Retrieved , from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2015/07/nida-niaaa-commentary-strongly-supports-brain-disease-model-addiction

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