Harvard Mental Health Letter

Addiction and the problem of relapse

Research on the brain is showing that addiction is a matter of memories, and recovery is a slow and hesitant process in which the influence of those memories is diminished.

Studies have shown that the initial target of addictive drugs is a circuit in the middle of the brain centering on a region called the nucleus accumbens. It is sometimes called a reward circuit because if it is functioning properly, it provides pleasure or satisfaction when we experience something that is directly or indirectly useful for survival or reproduction.

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