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Conclusion and overview 

Conclusion and overview
Chapter:
Conclusion and overview
Author(s):

David J. Nutt

and Liam J. Nestor

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198797746.003.0013
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date: 12 November 2019

Substance addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder. It is the manifestation of the long-term pharmacological actions of substances on the receptor mechanisms of the brain’s neural circuitry. There are different neurotransmitter systems (e.g. dopamine, GABA, opioids) and even appetite hormones, acting within this neural circuitry in addiction, but their collective roles in the disorder remain equivocal. Importantly, disturbances to these systems may also pre-date addiction, which leads people to initiate substance abuse (e.g. stress, reward sensitivity). People may also be at an increased risk of initiating substance abuse due to age (e.g. adolescence), where there is an imbalance in the maturation of neural circuits. The pharmacokinetics of addictive drugs also plays a significant role in their abuse potential. Addiction is a recurrent disorder that is difficult to cure. Treatments that possess efficacy in aiding people to remain abstinent and stabilize their lives are the best courses of treatment for addiction disorders.

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