Abstinence from chronic use of addictive drugs triggers an aversive withdrawal syndrome that compels relapse and deters abstinence. Many features of this syndrome are common across multiple drugs, involving both affective and physical symptoms. Some of the network signaling underlying withdrawal symptoms overlaps with activity that is associated with aversive mood states, including anxiety and depression. Given these shared features, it is not surprising that a particular circuit, the dorsal diencephalic conduction system, and the medial habenula (MHb) and interpeduncular nucleus (IPN), in particular, have been identified as critical to the emergence of aversive states that arise both as a result and, independently, of drug addiction. As the features of this circuit continue to be characterized, the MHb-IPN axis is emerging as a viable target for therapeutics to aid in the treatment of addiction to multiple drugs of abuse as well as mood-associated disorders. This is an article for the special issue XVth International Symposium on Cholinergic Mechanisms.
Keywords: alcohol; epithalamus; interpeduncular nucleus; mood; stress; withdrawal.
© 2017 International Society for Neurochemistry.