Neurobiology of Addiction

Addiction puts a great burden on affected individuals and their families, causing widespread morbidity and behavioral dysfunction. Crime associated with drug abuse and the control of addictive therapeutics pose great legal and societal challenges. Drugs of addiction induce fundamental changes in brain biochemistry, activating neuronal reward circuits and acting as neuronal and cardiovascular stimulants. Research in the Department of Pharmacology aims to understand how addictive agents such as nicotine, amphetamines or cocaine affect neurotransmitter receptors and transporters, and how they change neuronal signal transduction to initiate addiction. Other efforts focus on the discovery of novel analgesics that may replace addictive analgesics treatments in the future.