Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

Neuroscience of psychoactive substance use and dependence

In 2004, the WHO released a publication on 'Neuroscience of psychoactive substance use and dependence'. This report is the first attempt by WHO to provide a comprehensive overview of the biological factors related to substance use and dependence by summarizing the vast amount of knowledge gained in the last 20-30 years. The report highlights the current state of knowledge of the mechanisms of action of different types of psychoactive substances, and explains how the use of these substances can lead to the development of dependence syndrome. Though its focus is on brain mechanisms, the report nevertheless addresses the social and environmental factors which influence substance use and dependence. It also deals with neuroscience aspects of interventions, in particular, the ethical implications of new biological intervention strategies.