The development of addiction involves a transition from casual to compulsive patterns of drug use. This transition to addiction is accompanied by many drug-induced changes in the brain and associated changes in psychological functions. In this article we present a critical analysis of the major theoretical explanations of how drug-induced alterations in psychological function might cause a transition to addiction. These include: () the traditional hedonic view that drug pleasure and subsequent unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are the chief causes of addiction; () the view that addiction is due to aberrant learning, especially the development of strong stimulus-response habits; () our incentive-sensitization view, which suggests that sensitization of a neural system that attributes incentive salience causes compulsive motivation or “wanting” to take addictive drugs; and () the idea that dysfunction of frontal cortical systems, which normally regulate decision making and inhibitory control over behavior, leads to impaired judgment and impulsivity in addicts.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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