Addiction and Neurotoxicology

Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (for example, alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity such as gambling, sex, shopping that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health. People who have developed an addiction may not be aware that their behaviour is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others. This is a biological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a drug so that drug no longer has the same effect, otherwise known as tolerance. Another form of physical addiction is the phenomenon of overreaction by the brain to drugs (or to cues associated with the drugs).

The vulnerability of the nervous system to both temporary changes and permanent damage from a wide variety of agents is increasingly evident. For thousands of years humans have searched out agents that affect the nervous system. Many people today are regular users of alcohol, caffeine, or other agents designed to affect the nervous system. Industrialization ushered in an era of rapid development of new chemicals, often accompanied by human exposure that we learned, sometimes through tragic experience, can irreparably damage the nervous system. No one can reach his or her full genetic potential with a damaged nervous system. As a consequence, neurotoxicology developed as a discipline in the 1970s to advance our understanding of the effects of chemicals on the nervous system.

 

  • Drug abuse and neurotoxicology
  • Addiction studies from animal models to case studies
  • Substance abuse
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Drug addiction
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

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