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Book and Media Reviews
August 15, 2007

The Science of Addiction: From Neurobiology to Treatment

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(7):807-812. doi:10.1001/jama.298.7.809

The term “addiction” commonly triggers stereotypic misperceptions about the compulsive, out-of-control use of illicit drugs resulting from a perceived amendable behavioral flaw. In 1988, the United States Supreme Court in a disputed decision declared alcoholism to be “willful misconduct.” However, several decades of comprehensive genetic and neurobiological research have provided indisputable evidence that addiction is brain disease resulting from mesolimbic brain dysregulation that, if diagnosed in a timely fashion, can be properly treated. Addiction meets all characteristics of the disease concept, ie, (1) a clear biological basis; (2) unique, identifiable signs and symptoms; (3) a predictable course and outcome; and (4) the inability to control the cause of the disease.