How Drug Addiction Affects Brain Chemistry

Submission Date: June 5th, 2016
Attributing Author: Dr Timothy Huckaby
Source: Medical Daily (

Addiction is more than a series of poor choices; it’s a disease beyond the person’s control.

In the late 1990s, a team of doctors and researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia ran a study that detected nerve cell activity in the brains of cocaine addicts whenever they viewed cocaine-related cues. These cues, mere blips buried in a film, showed cocaine and cocaine-use. And although most of the cues would go undetected by other people, results showed the reward pathways in subjects’ brains lighting up with activity.

If this kind of brain activity happens when someone with a drug addiction views images of their preferred drug, imagine the brain’s reward system response when it’s right in front of their face. With regard to addiction, we know very well that powerful things happen in the brain.

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