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Población y Salud en Mesoamérica

versão On-line ISSN 1659-0201


SEQUEIRA-CORDERO, Andrey; BLANCO-VARGAS, Marilyn  e  BRENES SAENZ, Juan Carlos. Substance dependence in Costa Rica: epidemiological and neurobiological aspects of a misunderstood disease. PSM [online]. 2022, vol.19, n.2, pp.531-552. ISSN 1659-0201.

Introduction: It has been estimated that 80% to 90% of the population worldwide has ever consumed psychoactive substances (PAS), but only 15% will develop addiction. The goal of the current essay is to describe concisely the epidemiological background, the clinical foundations, and neurobiological mechanisms of addiction. Finally, it will briefly examine some environmental strategies aimed to prevent and/or treat addiction. Addiction is not a simple vice consequence of laziness or lack of character, but a neuropsychiatric disorder that must be recognized as such. Proposal: To attain this ultimate goal, the etiological factors and the neurobiological mechanisms of addiction must be revealed and disseminated. Arguments for discussion: All PAS directly or indirectly activate the mesolimbic dopaminergic system, which –after repeated intake– sensitizes and desensitizes the motivational and the hedonic system, respectively. This phenomenon causes PAS to be consumed more frequently and at higher doses despite their effects being progressively less rewarding. Consequently, the physical and emotional distress derived from the withdrawal syndrome exacerbates the compulsive PAS intake, while the completely loss of control results from impairments in the executive functions and the prefrontal cortex. Conclusions: Addiction is a brain disease induced by the chronic consumption of PAS combined with neurobiological and psychosocial risk factors. Exposure social contact, physical exercise, and sensory-cognitive stimulation may constitute a highly effective strategy for preventing and treating addiction and improving mental health as well.

Palavras-chave : Addiction; prevalence; neurobiologic factors; environmental enrichment.

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