Surgical Treatments for Drug Addictions in Humans

  • Bomin SunEmail author
  • Wei Liu


Drug addiction is a difficult problem worldwide, causing severe social, medical, and criminal problems. Current therapies such as drug substitution are not satisfactory, especially in treating craving and psychological dependence. In recent years, surgical treatment for drug addiction has attracted worldwide attention, as the development of new techniques such as deep brain stimulation provided more possibilities to pursue new therapeutic strategies for this notorious disease. Stereotactic nucleus accumbens lesioning and deep brain stimulation are presently the main surgical procedures for treatment of drug addiction. These procedures are safe, minimally invasive, and effective with few side effects.


Drug addiction Ablative surgery Deep brain stimulation Neuromodulation Substance abuse Stereotactic neurosurgery Nucleus accumbens Psychosurgery 


  1. Alderson HL, Parkinson JA, Robbins TW, Everitt BJ (2001) The effects of excitotoxic lesions of the nucleus accumbens core or shell regions on intravenous heroin self-administration in rats. Psychopharmacology 153:455–463PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Di Chiara G, Bassareo V, Fenu S, De Luca MA, Spina L, Cadoni C, Acquas E, Carboni E, Valentini V, Lecca D (2004) Dopamine and drug addiction: the nucleus accumbens shell connection. Neuropharmacology 47(Suppl 1):227–241PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gao GD, Wang XL, He SM, Li WX, Wang QF, Liang QC, Zhao YQ, Hou F, Chen L, Li AN (2003) Clinical study for alleviating opiate drug psychological dependence by a method of ablating the nucleus accumbens with stereotactic surgery. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 81:96–104PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Halpern CH, Torres N, Hurtig HI, Wolf JA, Stephen J, Oh MY, Williams NN, Dichter MA, Jaggi JL, Caplan AL, Kampman KM, Wadden TA, Whiting DM, Baltuch GH (2011) Expanding applications of deep brain stimulation: a potential therapeutic role in obesity and addiction management. Acta Neurochir 153:2293–2306Google Scholar
  5. Heinze HJ, Heldmann M, Voges J, Hinrichs H, Marco-Pallares J, Hopf JM, Muller UJ, Galazky I, Sturm V, Bogerts B, Munte TF (2009) Counteracting incentive sensitization in severe alcohol dependence using deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens: clinical and basic science aspects. Front Hum Neurosci 3:22PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Holtzheimer PE, Mayberg HS (2011) Deep brain stimulation for psychiatric disorders. Ann Rev Neurosci 34:289–307Google Scholar
  7. Kanaka TS, Balasubramaniam V (1978) Stereotactic cingulumotomy for drug addiction. Appl Neurophysiol 41:86–92PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Kuhn J, Lenartz D, Huff W, Lee S, Koulousakis A, Klosterkoetter J, Sturm V (2007) Remission of alcohol dependency following deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens: valuable therapeutic implications? J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 78:1152–1153PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kuhn J, Bauer R, Pohl S, Lenartz D, Huff W, Kim EH, Klosterkoetter J, Sturm V (2009) Observations on unaided smoking cessation after deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens. Eur Addict Res 15:196–201PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kuhn J, Moller M, Muller U, Bogerts B, Mann K, Grundler TO (2011) Deep brain stimulation for the treatment of addiction. Addiction 106:1536–1537(1537–1538)Google Scholar
  11. Mantione M, van de Brink W, Schuurman PR, Denys D (2010) Smoking cessation and weight loss after chronic deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens: therapeutic and research implications: case report. Neurosurgery 66:218–218Google Scholar
  12. Medvedev SV, Anichkov AD, Polyakov YI (2003) Physiological mechanisms of effectiveness of bilateral stereotactic cingulotomy against strong psychological dependence in drug addicts. Hum Physio 29(4):492–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Neuner I, Podoll K, Lenartz D, Sturm V, Schneider F (2009) Deep brain stimulation in the nucleus accumbens for intractable Tourette’s syndrome: follow-up report of 36 months. Biol Psychiatry 65:e5–e6PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Sun BM, Krahl SE, Zhan SK, Shen JK (2005) Improved capsulotomy for refractory Tourette’s syndrome. Stereotact Funct Neurosurg 83:55–56PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. van den Bosch LMC, Verheul R (2007) Patients with addiction and personality disorder: treatment outcomes and clinical implications. Curr Opin Psychiatr 20:67–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Vassoler FM, Schmidt HD, Gerard ME, Famous KR, Ciraulo DA, Kornetsky C, Knapp CM, Pierce RC (2008) Deep brain stimulation of the nucleus accumbens shell attenuates cocaine priming-induced reinstatement of drug seeking in rats. J Neurosci 28:8735–8739PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Volkow ND, Fowler JS, Wang GJ (2004) The addicted human brain viewed in the light of imaging studies: brain circuits and treatment strategies. Neuropharmacology 47:3–13PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Volkow ND, Wang GJ, Fowler JS, Telang F (2008) Overlapping neuronal circuits in addiction and obesity: evidence of systems pathology. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 363:3191–3200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Witjas T, Baunez C, Henry JM, Delfini M, Regis J, Cherif AA, Peragut JC, Azulay JP (2005) Addiction in Parkinson’s disease: impact of subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation. Mov Disord 20:1052–1055PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ruijin Hospital, Center for Functional Neurosurgery, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of MedicineShanghaiChina

Personalised recommendations