Addiction (Drug Addiction)

Addiction is characterized by an overwhelming desire to continue taking a drug to which one has become habituated through repeated consumption because it produces a particular effect, usually an alteration of mental status. Addiction is usually accompanied by a compulsion to obtain the drug, a tendency to increase the dose, a psychologic or physical dependence, and detrimental consequences for the individual and society. Common addictive drugs are barbiturates, alcohol, and morphine and other opioids, especially heroin, which has slightly greater euphoria-producing properties than other opium derivatives. (1)

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse considers addiction a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors. (2)


1. Mosby's Medical Dictionary. Addiction. 8th edition © 2009, Elsevier. Accessed Jan. 12, 2013.

2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction. Accessed Jan. 12, 2013.

Reviewed Feb. 5, 2013
Bomin Sun, MD
Member, International Neuromodulation Society
Department of Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai, China

Last Updated on Sunday, November 21, 2021 08:15 PM