Addiction: The Brain's Reward System

785 Words 4 Pages
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM 2011) defines addiction as a primary, chronic disease involving brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry (Smith 1). A lack of concern for personal behavior, the decline in healthy relationships, urge to consume, failure to refrain from use, unsatisfactory emotional responses and lack of behavioral control are considered identifying characteristics of addiction (Smith). Addiction does not allow an individual to successful execute the dimensions of wellness because the lust for the substance takes control. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) measures the severity of one’s addiction based on eleven criteria: developing a tolerance to the substance, experiencing …show more content…
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.

Related Documents