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Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2010 Jan;11(1):63-71.

Neurobiological mechanisms of addiction: focus on corticotropin-releasing factor.

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The Scripps Research Institute, Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders, 10550 North Torrey Pines Road, SP30-2400, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Drug addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder that is characterized by a compulsion to take drugs and loss of control in limiting intake. Medications that are on the market for the treatment of drug addiction target either the direct reinforcing effects of abuse (eg, naltrexone) or the consequent protracted abstinence syndrome (eg, acamprosate). Both conceptual and neurobiological advances in research have suggested that brain stress systems contribute to the withdrawal/negative affect and preoccupation/anticipation stages of the addiction cycle that promote the compulsivity of drug-taking in addiction. Validated animal models of the stress component of addiction and improved understanding of the neurocircuitry and neuropharmacological mechanisms involved in perturbations of this component suggest that corticotropin-releasing factor systems are a viable target for the development of future medications for drug addiction.

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