The epigenetic landscape of addiction

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Jan;1216:99-113. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05893.x.


Drug-induced alterations in gene expression throughout the reward circuitry of the brain are likely components of the persistence of the drug-addicted state. Recent studies examining the molecular mechanisms controlling drug-induced transcriptional, behavioral, and synaptic plasticity have indicated a direct role for chromatin remodeling in the regulation and stability of drug-mediated neuronal gene programs, and the subsequent promulgation of addictive behaviors. In this review, we discuss recent advances in our understanding of chromatin phenomena--or epigenetics, by one definition--that contribute to drug addiction, with the hope that such mechanistic insights may aid in the development of novel therapeutics for future treatments of addiction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Addictive / genetics*
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Humans
  • Substance-Related Disorders / genetics*


  • Chromatin