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Addiction: Definition, Epidemiology, and Neurobiology 

Addiction: Definition, Epidemiology, and Neurobiology
Addiction: Definition, Epidemiology, and Neurobiology

Matthew Torrington

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date: 25 July 2021

This chapter discusses the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders and identifies addiction as a disease of reward, motivation, and memory rooted in complex biologic changes. It explains the epidemiology of addiction and identifies the rise and fall of specific drug use and behaviors. It then moves to the neurobiology of addiction, naming the numerous survival systems that are intertwined with addiction’s genetics, early brain development, and learning pathways. Finally, it looks at why some people become addicts, describing it as a pro-inflammatory, bio-psycho-social-environmental-spiritual disease state. Addicted persons often engage in this behavior, no longer to obtain pleasure, but to relieve discomfort created by withdrawal from the drug and the negative life consequences of addiction. The chapter concludes by addressing what needs to be done in both the short- and long-term, noting that applying the disease model to addiction has been the most effective method of saving lives.

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