Author(s): Bostwick JM, Bucci JA
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Abstract Malfunctioning of the brain's reward center is increasingly understood to underlie all addictive behavior. Composed of mesolimbic incentive salience circuitry, the reward center governs all behavior in which motivation has a central role, including acquiring food, nurturing young, and having sex. To the detriment of normal functioning, basic survival activities can pale in importance when challenged by the allure of addictive substances or behaviors. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter driving both normal and addictive behavior. Other neurotransmitters modulate the amount of dopamine released in response to a stimulus, with the salience determined by the intensity of the dopamine pulse. Opiates (either endogenous or exogenous) exemplify such modulators. Prescribed for treating alcoholism, naltrexone blocks opiates' capacity to augment dopamine release. This article reviews naltrexone's mechanism of action in the reward center and describes a novel use for naltrexone in suppressing a euphorically compulsive and interpersonally devastating addiction to Internet pornography.
This article was published in Mayo Clin Proc
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy