EditorialDISEASES AND DISORDERS

Advances in understanding addiction treatment and recovery

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Science Advances  16 Oct 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 10, eaaz6596
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz6596

Benjamin Xu

Kevin S. LaBar

This Special Collection on Addiction focuses on scientific advances in the treatment and recovery mechanisms of addiction related to four widely misused substances: alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, and opioids. Although the opioid crisis has taken center stage across public policy and scientific forums, all of these substances continue to have a profound global impact on health and well-being and on social and economic resources. This collection includes comprehensive review articles on these substances authored by leading researchers in the field of addiction, along with research studies that present recent discoveries with clear translational impact on developing new treatment targets and effective intervention strategies.

Substance use disorder (SUD)—commonly referred to as addiction—is a medical illness with altered behavioral, cognitive, physical, neurobiological, and affective functions associated with compulsive and repeated use of addictive substance(s), whether legal or illegal. Regardless of the differences among the addictive substances, SUDs share common neurobehavioral characteristics, including the progression of the three addiction stages (intoxication → withdrawal → craving) and dysregulation of the neurobiological systems associated with reward, stress, emotion, and executive functions (1). SUDs cause millions of years of life lost because of premature death and is also among the leading causes of life with disability worldwide, including both developing and developed countries (24). Tobacco and alcohol, in particular, are among the four leading risk factors for deaths globally (5, 6). In the United States, it is estimated that each year, over 88,000 people die from alcohol related causes, and more than 480,000 deaths are linked to cigarette smoking (7, 8). Other drug-overdose deaths have increased by more than threefold in the United States since 1999, resulting in more than 70,000 deaths in 2017 (9). Based on the 2018 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services …

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