As Oscar Wilde put it, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Moderation is key to leading a successful and healthy life. But for the 22 million Americans addicted to drugs and alcohol, moderation is becoming a distant concept. Today, americans are addicted to everything, from an increasing array of drugs to gambling, sex, and even Internet. Addiction is plaguing the lives of individuals, their families, and society overall. The overall annual cost for substance abuse and the indirect factors of substance abuse, such as crime and health related costs, exceed well over half a trillion dollars. Substance abuse has also been linked to various public issues, such as unemployment, child abuse, domestic violence, dropping out of school, and other crimes.
Moreover, the health care system is pressed for a different form of addiction, food addiction. Food is an item of necessity, providing sustenance to survive. If people are addicted to food, how does their brain alter, especially given that everyone needs to eat, but not everyone becomes addicted? What in the food addicts brain or behavior makes it an addiction? Or does food addiction have the preconceived notion of being a character flaw in which people simply cannot control their eating?
In the 1930s, evidence for the biological nature of addiction surfaced. Previously, society believed that addiction was a symptom of an individual’s weak will power or failing morals. However, today the evidence that addiction is a neurobiological disorder with genetic, environmental, and psychosocial components is overwhelming. The National Institute of Drug Abuse defines addiction as a “chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences to the individual who is addicted and to those around them”. It is know understood that addiction is not a choice, it is a disease. Hopefully, by understanding how addiction manifests itself as a biological disease, specialists will be able to improve the treatment and prevention of addiction.
“Drug Addiction and It’s Underlying neurobiological Basis: Neuroimaging Evidence for the Involvement of the Frontal Cortex” by Goldstein and Volkow (2002) provided an overview of the biological basis of addiction. The authors describe the cyclical nature of addiction that involves intoxication, bingeing, withdrawal, and craving. Addiction occurs because drugs increase the dopamine neurotransmitter in the brain, which provides the reinforcing properties, or “high”. The mesolimbic and mesocortical dopamine systems, or reward pathways, are associated with this reinforcement, craving and, ultimately, addiction. The article provides evidence, through neuroimages of the brain, for the reinforcing properties in the frontal cortex. This study proves how little is understood about addiction because it is 2002 that we begin to acknowledge the frontal cortex’s involvement in addiction.