Dopaminergic Pathways and Addiction

A common feature of addictive drugs is their ability to activate the mesolimbic dopamine system. Similar increases in dopaminergic activity are also caused by other appetitive rewards, but the activation produced by addictive drugs is much stronger and also results in neuroadaptive changes that accompany chronic drug use. This dopamine system plays a critical role in the rewarding and affective changes produced by addictive drugs and by various other rewarding events. Since the early 1980s, considerable evidence has accumulated establishing this system as a general model of motivated behavior—a model that has become paradigmatic for the scientific study of addiction and other addiction-like abnormal behaviors such as pathological gambling and extreme sexual proclivity.

The Genesis of a Theory

The dopamine theory of drug addiction emerged when multiple ...

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