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Addiction was first classified as a treatable illness by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1956, yet some people still choose to believe that addiction is simply a few poor decisions on part of an individual who lacks ‘will power’.

This is not the case, however, and as medical research becomes more involved, doctors and researchers are able to learn more and more about the disease of addiction. According to the National Institutes of Health, advances in brain imaging science make it possible to see inside the brain of an addicted person and pinpoint the parts of the brain affected by drugs of abuse — providing knowledge that will enable the development of new approaches to prevention and treatment.

These brain images have been able to show that addiction is a brain disease which causes people to lose their ability to control their need for alcohol and drugs. One of the several factors here is the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine is largely responsible for the feelings of pleasure and also satiety. Humans are genetically engineered to crave things such as food and sex in order to survive on both an individual level and as a species. When people engage in such activities as eating and having sex, dopamine is released into the brain allowing the person to feel pleasure and then to feel satiated.

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