The U.S. is a nation of addictions, large and small. More than 34 million Americans smoke, and nearly 15 million struggle with alcoholism. There are people hooked on gambling, video games, sex, shopping, smartphones, and food. Once considered a moral failing, addiction today is acknowledged as a disease. In this special issue, Health explores how science is seeking to curb the cravings and help Americans kick the habit. Highlights include:
- How addiction disrupts pathways and processes that underlie desire, learning, emotional regulation and cognition
- A changing view: does addiction damage the brain, or do brain vulnerabilities caused by genetics, trauma and stress increase the risk of becoming addicted?
- Promising new therapies, including under-the-skin implants for recovering alcoholics and treating cocaine addicts with electromagnetic pulses to the brain