Addiction: The Brain's Reward System
1052). Based on this information, one can determine that drug addiction has an immense effect on one’s brain and behavior which causes numerous negative modifications. Addiction modifies emotional, cognitive and social behaviors (Smith 2). The brain’s reward system, in particular, plays a significant role in these changes. The mesocorticolimbic dopamine reward system is used to stimulate adaptive behavior (Durrant, et al 1051). Three main factors of reward are the conscious and/or unconscious experience of pleasure in response to a rewarding stimulus, the attribution of incentive salience to rewards and the corresponding motivation to seek them out and the development of associates and predictions based on past experiences …show more content…
This reward circuit involves pathways from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. All drugs of abuse activate this system either directly or indirectly increasing the level of dopamine, although it is also widely recognized that other neurotransmitters, such as opiate peptides, play a role in the experience of drug reward and may be important in mediating the experience of pleasure or liking in response to a rewarding stimulus. (qtd in Durrant, et al. 1050)
In other words, the reward system uses neurotransmitters to transport dopamine to different locations in the brain which create the desire for rewards. With addiction, the desire created requires more of the substance to be administered to fulfill the need. The reward system “is viewed as an essential structure during the development” of craving and relapsing (Li, et al.