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The GABA system and addiction 

The GABA system and addiction
The GABA system and addiction

David J. Nutt

and Liam J. Nestor

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date: 13 June 2021

Research points to the potential role of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in substance addiction. GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Disturbances in the GABA system may predate substance abuse and addiction, whereby its efficacy to modulate other neurotransmitter systems (e.g. dopamine) strongly implicated in substance addiction behaviours is impaired. There are a number of addictive substances that boost GABA functioning, however, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines. Medications that boost the availability of GABA or mimic its effects at receptors may possess some clinical potential in treating addiction, but also have abuse liability.

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