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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Addiction As A Brain Disease

Source: The National Institute on Drug Abuse, ...

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From the 29 April 2011 Medical News Today article

One can look at drug addiction as a moral issue, a social ill, or a criminal problem. But Lynn Oswald’s experience studying the neuroscience of addiction tells her that it is something else entirely: a disease of the brain.

“Addiction is a brain disease because differences in the way our brains function make some people more likely to become addicted to drugs than others-just as differences in our bodies make some people more likely to develop cancer or heart disease,” says Oswald, PhD, RN, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing.

However, the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie a person’s risks for alcohol and drug abuse are not well understood by scientists. Oswald is hoping to change this. She is currently at work on a study funded by a five-year $3 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that aims to answer questions about why some people become addicted to drugs and others do not.

“There is growing evidence that vulnerability for substance abuse may stem from pre-existing variances in brain function,” she says.

“These variations could be something that a person is born with or the result of changes that take place later on. Like other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, risks for drug use disorders seem to be influenced by both genes and environment. Scientific evidence continues to grow about the effects of environmental stress on the body. We now know that the brain is a very plastic organ and various life experiences, such as severe stress, can also change the way the brain works.”

April 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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