Treatment of chemical dependence (“addiction”) requires an understanding of its effects on the brain. To guide
research in the area of chemical dependence, several foundational theories have been developed. These include the incentive
salience, receptor down-regulation, opponent process, and psychomotor stimulant theories. These have been important
both in summarizing and in guiding investigations. However, the extant theories do not provide a single unified
framework nor have they yielded all of the guidance necessary for effective chemical dependence treatment. The present
paper summarizes and then integrates these theories and suggests some implications for the treatment followed by this integration.
Keywords: Behavioral sensitization, dopamine, like want need, medial prefrontal cortex, receptor down-regulation, ventral
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