Research Topic

Unraveling Vulnerability Factors in Addiction Drug Use and Potential Treatments

About this Research Topic

Drug addiction is a chronic mental disorder characterized by escalating compulsive drug use regardless of its negative consequences and by recurrent relapses, that are the main challenge for its treatment. At the initial phase, abused substances activate the reward system causing pleasurable effects that reinforce their consumption. With repeated administration, the rewarding properties of addictive drugs gradually decrease. However, the aversive emotional and physical symptoms that emerge in addicts when the abused compound is not present, that are caused by the stimulation of what has been called the antireward brain system, induce the maintenance of drug use. Finally, in the last stages of addiction, the person is not able to exert self-control over drug intake (becoming compulsive) and relapse is a feature present in the disorder. Many factors (genetic, environmental, stress or conditioning factors) are known to contribute to the vulnerability to enter in the addiction cycle as well as to the reinstatement of drug-seeking behaviors.

Despite decades of study, we are still beginning to understand the adaptive changes that acute and chronic exposure to addictive drugs cause in the brain, at the molecular and cellular levels, and their consequences in the organization of neurocircuits. Although the initial exposure to a drug is a requisite for addiction, only a low percentage of the population that ever uses drugs develop the disorder. This fact highlights the importance of the interaction between drugs and biological or environmental risk factors. Likewise, the success of the therapeutic approaches for treating addiction remained stable for the last 40 years and the relapse prevalence is still elevated. A better understanding of the brain mechanisms that underlie the effects of the addictive disorder process may contribute to the development of effective strategies to prevent drug consumption, as well as to develop new treatments.


The scope of the Research Topic is to describe the various mechanisms or factors that can increase vulnerability to the use of addictive substances (in the different phases of addiction); as well as to reveal possible treatments for the addictive disorder, focusing mainly in the relapse stage.
• Vulnerability factors (environmental vs genetic) involved in drug use (initiation, maintenance, and relapse stages).
• Brain mechanisms implicated in the addictive disorder process.
• Aspects of the human body systems related with the addictive disorder progression.
• Pharmacological, psychological, and environmental interventions for the treatment of substance use disorder.


Keywords: Drug use, environment, genetics, inflammation, treatment


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Drug addiction is a chronic mental disorder characterized by escalating compulsive drug use regardless of its negative consequences and by recurrent relapses, that are the main challenge for its treatment. At the initial phase, abused substances activate the reward system causing pleasurable effects that reinforce their consumption. With repeated administration, the rewarding properties of addictive drugs gradually decrease. However, the aversive emotional and physical symptoms that emerge in addicts when the abused compound is not present, that are caused by the stimulation of what has been called the antireward brain system, induce the maintenance of drug use. Finally, in the last stages of addiction, the person is not able to exert self-control over drug intake (becoming compulsive) and relapse is a feature present in the disorder. Many factors (genetic, environmental, stress or conditioning factors) are known to contribute to the vulnerability to enter in the addiction cycle as well as to the reinstatement of drug-seeking behaviors.

Despite decades of study, we are still beginning to understand the adaptive changes that acute and chronic exposure to addictive drugs cause in the brain, at the molecular and cellular levels, and their consequences in the organization of neurocircuits. Although the initial exposure to a drug is a requisite for addiction, only a low percentage of the population that ever uses drugs develop the disorder. This fact highlights the importance of the interaction between drugs and biological or environmental risk factors. Likewise, the success of the therapeutic approaches for treating addiction remained stable for the last 40 years and the relapse prevalence is still elevated. A better understanding of the brain mechanisms that underlie the effects of the addictive disorder process may contribute to the development of effective strategies to prevent drug consumption, as well as to develop new treatments.


The scope of the Research Topic is to describe the various mechanisms or factors that can increase vulnerability to the use of addictive substances (in the different phases of addiction); as well as to reveal possible treatments for the addictive disorder, focusing mainly in the relapse stage.
• Vulnerability factors (environmental vs genetic) involved in drug use (initiation, maintenance, and relapse stages).
• Brain mechanisms implicated in the addictive disorder process.
• Aspects of the human body systems related with the addictive disorder progression.
• Pharmacological, psychological, and environmental interventions for the treatment of substance use disorder.


Keywords: Drug use, environment, genetics, inflammation, treatment


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

10 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

10 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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