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The nature of addictive disorders 

The nature of addictive disorders
Chapter:
The nature of addictive disorders
DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198714750.003.0001
Page of

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date: 27 May 2019

Chapter 1 of Addiction Medicine serves as an introduction to the whole book and defines addictive disorders as those conditions that are related to the excessive use of certain psychoactive substances or repetitive human activities such as gambling and gaming. The characteristics of addictive substances and individual predisposing factors which make some people susceptible to them are described, as are the social influences and psychological mechanisms which come into play and lead to repetitive substance use and addictive activities. Importantly, neurobiological changes develop in key neurocircuits, subserving reward, excitatory mechanisms, and prioritization of activities, and then there is diminished effectiveness of behavioural control mechanisms. These changes generate an ‘internal driving force’, which results in the disorder becoming self-perpetuating and enduring.

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