Addiction: Our Compulsions and Brain Reward Systems

Friday, 14 February 2014: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Regency C (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to attribute our compulsion for addictive damaging activities, such as overeating, taking illicit drugs, or smoking, wholly to our genetic makeup? Then we could blame our parents for everything! We know it is bad for us, but we still do it. Why? This session explores the latest scientific evidence behind compulsive behavior. Personalized medicine provides plenty of research linking genetics and disease, but establishing a relationship between genetic variation and behavior is trickier. How does over-consumption of high-fat food trigger addiction-like neuro adaptive responses in our brain-reward circuitry? Why are less than 25 percent of heroin users proven to be dependent, while other addictive substances need only one try for a permanent susceptibility to addiction to occur? How does nicotine work as the principal reinforcing component in tobacco smoke responsible for addiction? This symposium highlights new research showing that genetics plays but one part, demonstrating that compulsive behavior usually comes about after extended access. As biologically deterministic as that may sound, we all have our aptitudes, traits, and susceptibilities—and free will can prevail. The speakers contend that the same is true with addiction. This session sheds new light on how the three strands of biological, psychological, and social elements work together and emphasizes the importance of continued global research into many unknown underlying mechanisms.
Wilson Compton, National Institute on Drug Abuse
Aidan Gilligan, SciCom–Making Sense of Science
Klaus Bock, Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation
Seema Kumar, Janssen Global Services
Wilson Compton, National Institute on Drug Abuse
Understanding Gene-Environmental Interactions in the Etiology of Addictions
Paul J. Kenny, Scripps Research Institute
Understanding Vulnerability to Obesity
Delon Human, Health Diplomats
Understanding Vulnerability to Nicotine
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