[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 20-Oct-2009
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Contact: Kat Snodgrass
ksnodgrass@sfn.org
202-637-4090
Society for Neuroscience

Studies improve knowledge of underlying brain changes caused by addiction

Research into specific cells and circuitry affected by addiction may help guard against relapse

CHICAGO New research using animal models is enabling a deeper understanding of the neurobiology of compulsive drug addiction in humans knowledge that may lead to more effective treatment options to weaken the powerful cravings that cause people to relapse. The findings were released today at Neuroscience 2009, the Society for Neuroscience's annual meeting and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.

Drug addiction is known to change the structure and function of the brain, affecting a person's self control and decision-making ability. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's latest survey, 23.6 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2006.

These new studies have identified brain mechanisms that help explain how addictions form, as well as the cognitive problems associated with them. Additional research findings discussed could also offer hope against addiction relapses.

Today's new findings show that:

Other research findings being discussed at the meeting show that:

"The brain is the body's most complex organ and chemical alterations caused by drug abuse have significant overarching impact on neuroplasticity," said press conference moderator George F. Koob, PhD, of The Scripps Research Institute, an expert on addiction and stress. "Today's findings offer a better understanding of the impacts of this disease and provide a clearer approach toward treating addiction and guarding against relapse."

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Access the full release and study information here.

This research was supported by national funding agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as private and philanthropic organizations.



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