- The substance is used to elicit a positive reward state.
- Physical dependence develops so that when ongoing use is not possible a withdrawal state ensues.
- Tolerance to the substance develops over time so that increasingly higher dosages are required to both impart the “high” as well as avoid the development of active withdrawal.
- Ongoing substance abuse occurs despite the dangers present. Most addicts will tell you that they are aware of the risks involved, including arrest, incarceration, the dangers of the environments visited to get the drug, fatal overdose or other non-fatal medical complications (like heart attacks from cocaine, liver disease from alcohol, HIV from intravenous use) and the deleterious impact on family, job, relationships and quality of life. It is as if there is a disconnection between the logical part of the brain and the addicted centers of the brain. More on this later.
Dr. Rosen and Dr. Spinner recently presented a session on The Uses of Virtual Reality in Social Anxiety Treatment for the National Social Anxiety Center.