E.4c Drugs

6. Discuss the causes of addiction, including genetic predisposition, social factors and dopamine secretion.

genetic predisposition:

  • the tendency toward addiction is variable, with studies indicating that genetic factors have some influence
  • alcoholism, especially, tends to run in families

social factors:

  • a variety of social factors correlate positively with addiction:
    • cultural traditions
    • peer pressure
    • poverty
    • social deprivation
    • traumatic life experiences
    • mental health problems

dopamine secretion

  • many addictive drugs are excitatory at dopaminergic synapses, also known as the reward pathway
  • addiction is a result of dopaminergic synapses responding to regular use
    • reduction in the number of dopamine receptors in post-synaptic neurons
    • reduction in the release of dopamine from pre-synaptic neurons
  • tolerance to a drug
    • a result of decreased number of receptors
    • leading to increased dosage to produce the desired effect
  • withdrawl
    • with reduction of receptors
    • normal level of dopamine fails to produce pleasure
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