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Drug Addiction

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Submitted By pmbradley
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Drug addiction is most often defined as a chronically relapsing disorder in which the addict experiences uncontrollable compulsion to take drugs, while simultaneously the repertoire of behaviors not related to drug seeking, taking, and recovery, declines dramatically."(1) Recent scientific research has shown significant causal relationships between drug addiction and genetic predisposition as well as between addiction and environmental factors. Both genetics and the environment influence the brain, which in turn effects the behavior of usage. Once an individual begins using psychotropic substances, such as cocaine or heroin, measurable changes in brain chemistry and physiology perpetuate the cycle of addiction. Thus, we have an example of brain affecting behavior, which in turn, affects the brain. This cycle is particularly extreme and insular in the situation of drug addiction where free will and decision making are quickly and severely impaired. In this paper, we will first explore the genetic and environmental theories on drug addiction. We will then investigate how the behavior of drug addiction changes the brain to perpetuate the circle of cause and effect between the brain and behavior.

Genetic Influences on the Behavior of Drug Addiction:
Addiction does not result from a single gene. However, multiple genetic trends have been identified as crucial contributors to the illness of addiction. Alcoholics and cocaine addicts often express the A1 allele of the dopamine receptor gene DRD2 and lack the serotonin receptor gene Htr1b. These genes both fit into the pleasure-response category, but there are numerous ways in which other genes affect an individual's response to drugs, from tolerance of the substance to the severity of withdrawal.(2) One must ask whether these genetic factors exist before the person's first experience with a drug or whether the genes are...

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