The hijacked brain

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
522,
Pages:
S46–S47
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/522S46a
Published online

Addiction is a devastating disease that alters the brain's circuitry, notably in young adults. But the changes need not be permanent: improved understanding of them will help in developing ways to lessen the burden. By Margaret Munro. See a Nature Video at go.nature.com/e1gqkk.


DANGEROUS AGE

Many people have their first experience of drugs at a young age, placing them at high risk of addiction. The developing brain may not form properly under the influence of drugs or alcohol7.


HIGH COST OF A HABIT

The estimated annual cost of health care associated with substance misuse in the United States7.


  • 27 MILLION people had problematic drug use3 in 2012.
  • 183,000 drug-related deaths were reported in 2012.
  • 1 BILLION or more people smoke, with the majority living in low- to middle-income countries4.
  • 6 MILLION smokers die every year; more than 5 million of the deaths are directly related to tobacco use4.
  • 38.3% of the global population drinks alcohol, with an annual average of 17 litres per person4.
  • 3.3 MILLION deaths in 2012 were attributed to alcohol consumption4.

References

  1. Logrip, M. L., Koob, G. F. & Zorrilla, E. P. CNS Drugs 25, 271287 (2011);
  2. Schoenbaum, G. & Shaham, Y. Biol. Psychiatry 63, 256262 (2008);
  3. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report 2014 (United Nations, 2014);
  4. World Health Organization;
  5. Nestler, E. J. Nature Neurosci. 8, 14451449 (2005);
  6. Flagel, S. B. et al. Nature 469, 5357 (2011);
  7. US National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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Comments

  1. Report this comment #66311

    David Van Geert said:

    Something seems odd to me. In the standard literature I read alcohol has an excitatory effect on GABA, it binds to the postsynaptic neuron so more GABA can enter the cell, which in turn gives the sedative effect. Here I read alcohol suppresses the GABA neuron so less GABA is being produced which keeps the gates open for dopamine... Can I conclude alcohol has different effects on the same neurotransmittor depending on the region in the brain? If someone can help me with this, I would much appreciate it.

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