Among the various disorders of the nervous system that are now soliciting basic research, addictions undoubtedly constitute one of the most interesting case studies, for several reasons. An important one of these is that addictions represent the behavioral disorder for which the greatest amount of experimental data is available, from molecular, genetic and neuropharmacological research on animal models to human neuroimaging studies or new investigations of cognitive neuroscience and social.

In this case it is possible to construct explanations that integrate practically all the levels to which it is possible to report the factors and mechanisms that seem to determine this pathological condition. If you look at the statistics of addiction then you will understand the best.

The Aspect of Neurobiological Research

Neurobiological research, the use of psychopharmacology and neurotechnological tools for the study and intervention on addictions also have a profound social and political impact, because they concern the voluntary control of behavior, the degree of autonomy and responsibility, their size and their judgment: the elements that define a moral agent and a social being, and that also construct the fabric, the constraints and the reciprocal limits of the relationships between people, values, juridical norms: between individual and society.

In this paper we will try to analyze some controversial aspects of the neurobiological conceptualizations of addictions, discussing their implications for clinical intervention strategies and their social and political impact.

Addiction disease or brain pathology

The DSM-V and the ICD-10, the international reference texts for psychiatric diagnosis, indicate the cardinal sign of the addiction in the compulsive use of a substance despite the awareness of the adverse consequences, essentially the loss of voluntary control and cognitive behavior. There would be much to say about the problematic nature of the concepts of compulsion and loss of behavioral control applied in the medical field.

These are ideas that pertain to the moral dimension and have to do with culturally established norms and values, certainly not with somatic traits and parameters. Furthermore, the concepts of compulsion and loss of control of behavior are controversial even within the ethical debate. There is no unambiguous and unanimous definition of these two ideas and probably can never be given, because their meaning is determined by the constantly changing network of semantic nodes that substantiate moral judgments. For the moment let’s try to hire them as peaceful.

Addiction as a brain disease

The extraordinary progress that the Neurosciences have made in the last thirty years have helped to shed light on some of the brain mechanisms implicated in addictions, arriving at a seductive explanation model supported by experimental evidence on animal models and by suggestive findings obtained with new in vivo visualization techniques for human brain functions. These investigation tools seem to demonstrate characteristic functional and even structural alterations, for this reason chronic, to which the brain of the subjects who live the condition of dependence is facing.

The neuroscience bases of the MDMCC

The numerous theories that today attempt to account for the neurobiological basis of addiction all include alterations to the brain reward system, a complex apparatus that connects the deep regions of the brain responsible for the control of vital parameters, the regions of the frontal cortex, passing through the centers cerebral mediating the subjective experience of pleasure, and the affective component of motivations and appetites.