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ОбзорOne of the functions of the prefrontal cortex is to diminish our urge to take a drug when it would otherwise be unwise.
Addictive drugs falsely activate this system, and we are hardwired to seek out the pleasures they deliver. Even though these types of behavior produce many adverse consequences, an individual who is addicted is perhaps most defined by their inability to stop, even if they want to stop.
Drug addiction is distinguished by a pathological longing for drugs to the point where a want becomes a need. Even though progress is slow on understanding the differences in the brains of addicts versus non-addicts, the good news is that with a better understanding comes more efficient ways of helping addicts into recovery.
Perhaps it has something to do with a deficiency in the operation of the prefrontal cortex. This area evolved to differentiate between the effects of rewards such as eating when hungry or drinking when thirsty.
Why do some people get addicted? Many addicts become so during adolescence, when that area is not fully developed.
When pleasure is produced because of these actions, we learn to repeat the ones that gave us the pleasurable reward. They act as a shortcut straight to this reward system by firing a large amount of dopamine into the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain involved in processing pleasure, motivation, and reward.
They also suspect that they have more vulnerable reward systems, more intense responses to stress, and more likely to suffer from depression, antisocial personality, anxiety, and schizophrenia.