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Behavioral and neurochemical commonalities in addiction


Individuals involved in compulsive activities as different as sex, drugs, eating, crime and gambling exhibit remarkably similar behaviors with regard to their addiction. The authors apply a unified model of addiction which relates these behavioral similarities to manifestations of altered neurochemistry in that portion of the limbic system responsible for reward. Certain individuals whose genetic or environmental situation creates a deficit of dopamine in the reward system are prone to anxiety, craving and general lack of feelings of well-being. In order to satiate these feelings, they may engage in any number of activities or drugs which temporarily restores dopamine neurotransmission.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stanley G. Sunderwirth PhD.

Additional information

The authors with to thank Dr. Kenneth Blum, director of the Laboratory of Pharmacogenetics at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio, for his inspiration and encouragement in the preparation of this manuscript.

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Sunderwirth, S.G., Milkman, H. Behavioral and neurochemical commonalities in addiction. Contemp Fam Ther 13, 421–433 (1991).

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  • Dopamine
  • Health Psychology
  • Social Issue
  • Unify Model
  • Limbic System