, Volume 125, Issue 4, pp 285–345 | Cite as

The biological, social and clinical bases of drug addiction: commentary and debate

  • J. Altman
  • B. J. Everitt
  • T. W. Robbins
  • S. Glautier
  • A. Markou
  • D. Nutt
  • R. Oretti
  • G. D. Phillips


This article summarizes the main discussions at a meeting on the biological, social and clinical bases of drug addiction focused on contemporary topics in drug dependence. Four main domains are surveyed, reflecting the structure of the meeting: psychological and pharmacological factors; neurobiological substrates; risk factors (including a consideration of vulnerability from an environmental and genetic perspective); and clinical treatment. Among the topics discussed were tolerance, sensitization, withdrawal, craving and relapse; mechanisms of reinforcing actions of drugs at the behavioural, cognitive and neural levels; the role of subjective factors in drug dependence; approaches to the behavioural and molecular genetics of drug dependence; the use of functional neuroimaging; pharmaceutical and psychosocial strategies for treatment; epidemiological and sociological aspects of drug dependence. The survey takes into account the considerable disagreements and controversies arising from the discussions, but also reaches a degree of consensus in certain areas.

Key words

Dependence Addiction Drug abuse Craving Relapse Tolerance Sensitization Withdrawal Opponent process theories Subjective Discriminative effects Reinforcement Habit Neural systems Psychomotor stimulants Amphetamine Cocaine Oppiates Alcohol Nicotine Hallucinogens Amygdala Stratum Nucleus accumbens Dopamine 5-HT Cerebral cortex Functional neuroimaging PET Transcription factors Behavioural genetics Strain-dependent effects Quantitative trait loci Individual differences Risk factors Personality and dependence Biological markers of dependence Co-morbidity Schizophrenia Depression Pharmacological treatment for dependence Psychosocial treatment of dependence Sociology of dependence Epidemiology of dependence Animal models of dependence 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Altman
    • 1
  • B. J. Everitt
    • 2
  • T. W. Robbins
    • 2
  • S. Glautier
    • 3
  • A. Markou
    • 4
  • D. Nutt
    • 5
  • R. Oretti
    • 6
  • G. D. Phillips
    • 7
  1. 1.LondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SwanseaSwanseaUK
  4. 4.Department of NeuropharmacologyThe Scripps Research InstituteLa JollaUSA
  5. 5.Departments of Pharmacology and PsychiatryUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CardiffCardiffUK
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK

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