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Addiction and Hunger

February 22, 2007

Addiction and hunger seem to activate the same brain circuits.


The addiction-hunger connection. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you want to know what it’s like to be addicted to cocaine, you might imagine being really, really hungry. That’s according to neuroscientist Nora Volkow (Vol-kov), director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She found that the brains of cocaine addicts release the pleasure chemical dopamine when exposed to drug cues, like images of people using drugs or drug paraphernalia. She says that’s the same thing that happens in the brains of food-deprived people exposed to food cues.

NORA VOLKOW (National Institute on Drug Abuse):
Drugs are taking advantage of circuits that are there for a very specific purpose. The circuits that are tapped by drugs are those that will ensure that we will do behaviors that get indispensable such as eating.

And she says that’s why addicts can’t resist the urge to get high any more than a starving person could resist the urge to eat. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.