Policy ForumNeuroscience and Addiction

Brains, environments, and policy responses to addiction

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Science  23 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6344, pp. 1237-1238
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0655

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With 1 in 8 deaths globally due to the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, the director-general of the World Health Organization (1) recently called for more scientifically informed public policies regarding addiction. In the United States, where an average of 91 people per day die of opioid overdose, a presidential task force is to present, on 27 June, policy recommendations to combat opioid addiction, although the House of Representatives passed an Affordable Care Act repeal bill that would withdraw health insurance from two million people with addictions. Despite these urgent challenges, research on the brain and its interactions with the environment, which can help policymakers advance more effective and humane policies than some traditional approaches to addiction, has only occasionally been applied in public policy.