We do not yet know all the relevant mechanisms, but the evidence suggests that those long-lasting brain changes are responsible for the distortions of cognitive and emotional
functioning that characterize addicts, particularly including the compulsion to use drugs that is the essence of addiction.
It is as if drugs have highjacked the brain's natural motivational control circuits, resulting in drug use becoming the sole, or at least the top, motivational priority for the individual.
Thus, the majority of the biomedical community now considers addiction, in its essence, to be a brain disease:
This brain-based view of addiction has generated substantial controversy, particularly among people who seem able to think only in polarized ways.
Many people erroneously still believe that biological and behavioral explanations are alternative or competing ways to understand phenomena, when in fact they are complementary and integrative.
Modern science has taught that it is much too simplistic to set biology in opposition to behavior or to pit willpower against brain chemistry.
Addiction involves inseparable biological and behavioral components. It is the quintessential bio-behavioral disorder.
Many people also erroneously still believe that drug addiction is simply a failure of will or of strength of character. Research contradicts that position.
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