• Harold Kalant
Part of the Readings from the Encyclopedia of Neuroscience book series (REN)


Addiction (or drug dependence, as the World Health Organization now recommends that it be called) is a concept that was originally clear in empirical terms, but became progressively more confused by successive attempts at official definitions. In North America there is a tendency to regard physical dependence, as revealed by a withdrawal reaction, as the cardinal feature of addiction, but this is putting the cart before the horse. The essence of addiction is drug-seeking and drug-taking behavior that has become a central element of the individual’s life pattern. If the frequency and amount of drug taking are sufficiently high, and the circumstances of use are appropriate, tolerance and physical dependence are likely to result, and social, psychiatric and medical problems of various kinds may be produced, but these are all consequences of addiction. The fundamental question is: What causes the drug-taking behavior to become so strongly established as to generate these consequences?

Further reading

  1. Bozarth MA, Wise RA (1984): Anatomically distinct opiate receptor fields mediate reward and physical dependence. Science 224:516–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Fishman J, ed. (1978): The Bases of Addiction. Berlin: Dahlem KonferenzenGoogle Scholar
  3. Moore MH, Gerstein DR, eds. (1981): Alcohol and Public Policy: Beyond the Shadow of Prohibition. Washington DC: National Academy PressGoogle Scholar
  4. Smith JE, Lane JD, eds. (1983): The Neurobiology of Opiate Reward Processes. Amsterdam: ElsevierGoogle Scholar
  5. Woolverton WL, Schuster CR (1983): Behavioral and pharmacological aspects of opioid dependence: mixed agonist-antagonists. Pharmacol Rev 35:33–52Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harold Kalant

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