Development of Addiction Project

The purpose of the Development of Addition project is to study brain processes that may be occurring during the transition from casual drug use to drug use problems.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, for those ages 12 and older, an estimated 24 million Americans (9% of the population) were current users of illicit drugs within the last year, while 136 million (52% of the population) were current drinkers of alcohol. While these figures can seem staggering, an estimated 21 million people (8% of the population) ages 12 and older were classed as having substance abuse or dependence, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition.

Costs to society associated with drug and alcohol abuse are large, an estimated $360 billion annually. Costs to the individual are immeasurable and include loss of job, loss of relationships, poor health, etc.

Thus, the Brain Imaging Research Center is hoping to learn more about what happens in the brain during the transition from occasional drug and alcohol use to more problematic behaviors. While not within the scope of this project, knowledge of this transition may allow future researchers and clinicians to design therapies aimed at interrupting this process.