Home > Drugs, brains and behavior: the science of addiction.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. [NIDA] (2014) Drugs, brains and behavior: the science of addiction. Bethesda, md: National Institute on Drug Abuse. 36 p.

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For much of the past century, scientists studying drug abuse labored in the shadows of powerful myths and misconceptions about the nature of addiction. When scientists began to study addictive behavior in the 1930s, people addicted to drugs were thought to be morally flawed and lacking in willpower. Those views shaped society’s responses to drug abuse, treating it as a moral failing rather than a health problem, which led to an emphasis on punishment rather than prevention and treatment. Today, thanks to science, our views and our responses to addiction and other substance use disorders have changed dramatically. Groundbreaking discoveries about the brain have revolutionized our understanding of compulsive drug use, enabling us to respond effectively to the problem.

As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. We have identified many of the biological and environmental factors and are beginning to search for the genetic variations that contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Scientists use this knowledge to develop effective prevention and treatment approaches that reduce the toll drug abuse takes on individuals, families, and communities.

Despite these advances, many people today do not understand why people become addicted to drugs or how drugs change the brain to foster compulsive drug use. This booklet aims to fill that knowledge gap by providing scientific information about the disease of drug addiction, including the many harmful consequences of drug abuse and the basic approaches that have been developed to prevent and treat substance use disorders. At the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), we believe that increased understanding of the basics of addiction will empower people to make informed choices in their own lives, adopt science-based policies and programs that reduce drug abuse and addiction in their communities, and support scientific research that improves the Nation’s well-being.


Item Type:Evidence resource
Publication Type:Report
Drug Type:Alcohol or other drugs in general
Intervention Type:AOD disorder
Source:NIDA
Date:2014
Pages:36 p.
Publisher:National Institute on Drug Abuse
Corporate Creators:National Institute on Drug Abuse
Place of Publication:Bethesda, md
Edition:revised edition
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Electronic Only)
Subjects:A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Substance use behaviour
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Theory of substance use > Biological substance use disorder theory
B Substances > Drugs and alcohol in general
E Concepts in biomedical areas > General life processes (physiology)
G Health and disease > Disease model
G Health and disease > Substance use disorder

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