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The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction

Background Information for the Presenter


The objective of the teaching packet is to illustrate to the audience the basic function of the brain, the neurobiological basis for addiction and the actions of heroin and cocaine. The packet is arranged in 4 sections. The first section introduces the brain and presents some basic neurobiology, the second introduces the reward pathway and the third and fourth present the mechanism of action of heroin and cocaine and how each affects the reward system.

Before Using the Teaching Packet

  • Know your target audience. Be prepared to adjust your presentation depending on the degree of education and training of your audience.
  • Read the narrative script and practice the presentation. Be prepared to define any word used in the presentation. If you need additional information, several reference materials are also included at the end.

General Instructions

  • The presentation should take approximately 30-40 minutes (without questions).
  • Use the narrative text as a guide, it need not be repeated word-for-word.

Additional Reference Material

  1. G. Hanson and P.J. Venturelli. Drugs and Society, Jones and Barlett Publishers, Boston, 1995.
  2. O. Ray and C. Ksir. Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior, Mosby, St. Louis, 1996.
  3. R.R. Levine, C.A. Walsh and R.D. Schwartz. Pharmacology: Drug Actions and Reactions, Parthenon Publishing Group, New York, 1996.

For additional information about NIDA, contact us.

This page was last updated November 2019

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Cite this article

NIDA. (2019, November 19). The Neurobiology of Drug Addiction. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/neurobiology-drug-addiction

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