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The Thirteenth StepAddiction in the Age of Brain Science$
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Markus Heilig

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172363

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172363.001.0001

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The Dark Side of Addiction

The Dark Side of Addiction

(p.75) 8 The Dark Side of Addiction
The Thirteenth Step

Markus Heilig

Columbia University Press

The notion that people take drugs to alleviate emotional pain rings intuitively true with patients, treatment providers, and many others. Often referred to as a “self-medication” view of addiction, this notion has had interesting ups and downs through the years. This chapter follows this notion through these cycles to obtain a better understanding of the flaws inherent in a naive, original version of the theory. It also paves the way for a better informed and more useful modern interpretation. The chapter then considers the notion that prolonged drug use triggers long-term changes, or “adaptations,” in brain function. These adaptations would come online when addictive drugs cause excessive activity of brain reward circuitry and would attempt to counter the rewarding drug actions.

Keywords:   addiction, self-medication, addictive disorder, human brain, drug use, brain function, adaptation

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