The Science of Addiction

Addiction is one of the most common forms of mental illness in the world. Tens of millions of Americans, and over a quarter of a billion people worldwide, have an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Everyone who has watched a loved one suffer from addiction wonders, “Why are they acting like this? Why can’t they stop?” And people with addictions wonder the same things about themselves. Many people think of addiction as a moral failing, or as a conscious choice—neither belief is supported by scientific evidence.

Over the past 30 years, great strides have been made in the scientific understanding of addiction, and this understanding has led to improved outcomes for those afflicted. As this research continues, we will see further progress in the prevention, treatment, and outcome for addiction.

This program will give an overview of the most up-to-date understanding of addiction as a disease of the brain. Some of the top experts in Chicago and in the nation will discuss how addiction changes the brain, what the experience of addiction is like, and what therapies are in development to treat people with this disease.

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