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Free Content Neuroimaging of Substance Abuse

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Substance use disorder is one of the most critical current public health crises in the United States and is the cause of morbidity and mortality of many Americans. Neuroimaging plays an important role in diagnosing and assessing prognosis of patients who have this disorder. Drugs of abuse target the brain reward system, which plays a central role in addiction. Substance use may cause reversible or irreversible neurologic injuries, disability, and death through various mechanisms. This article reviews the neurotoxic effects and neuroimaging manifestations of various commonly used drugs to aid physicians in diagnosis, management, and prediction of outcome of patients with this disorder.

Learning Objective: To become familiar with the mechanism of action, pathophysiology, neuropathology, and neuroimaging features of commonly used drugs.
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Keywords: GABA = γ-aminobutyric acid; NAc = nucleus accumbens; THC = tetrahydrocannabinol; VTA = ventral tegmental area

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Neurographics is the peer-reviewed, bimonthly educational journal of the American Society of Neuroradiology. The journal comprises articles selected from material presented at the ASNR Annual Meeting. Neurographics also publishes other high-quality submissions that are primarily educational and have a high emphasis on a pictorial approach. Neurographics offers CME credit for reading review articles and completing quiz-based self-assessment activities. CME credit for review articles may be claimed up to 3 years after an article's publication date. Visit to view all available CME courses.
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