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.
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.
Logrip, M. L., Koob, G. F. & Zorrilla, E. P. CNS Drugs 25, 271–287 (2011);
Schoenbaum, G. & Shaham, Y. Biol. Psychiatry 63, 256–262 (2008);
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report 2014 (United Nations, 2014);
World Health Organization;
Nestler, E. J. Nature Neurosci. 8, 1445–1449 (2005);
Flagel, S. B. et al. Nature 469, 53–57 (2011);
US National Institute on Drug Abuse.
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