The biological, social and clinical bases of drug addiction: commentary and debate

Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1996 Jun;125(4):285-345. doi: 10.1007/BF02246016.


This article summarizes the main discussions at a meeting on the biological, social and clinical bases of drug addiction focused on contemporary topics in drug dependence. Four main domains are surveyed, reflecting the structure of the meeting: psychological and pharmacological factors; neurobiological substrates; risk factors (including a consideration of vulnerability from an environmental and genetic perspective); and clinical treatment. Among the topics discussed were tolerance, sensitization, withdrawal, craving and relapse; mechanisms of reinforcing actions of drugs at the behavioural, cognitive and neural levels; the role of subjective factors in drug dependence; approaches to the behavioural and molecular genetics of drug dependence; the use of functional neuroimaging; pharmaceutical and psychosocial strategies for treatment; epidemiological and sociological aspects of drug dependence. The survey takes into account the considerable disagreements and controversies arising from the discussions, but also reaches a degree of consensus in certain areas.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Congress

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Ethanol*
  • Humans
  • Narcotics*
  • Nicotine*
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*


  • Narcotics
  • Ethanol
  • Nicotine