Why Neuroscience Matters for a Rational Drug Policy
Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology, 2010
14 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2009
Date Written: April 9, 2009
Drug addiction reflects abnormal operation of normal neural circuitry. More than physical dependence, addiction represents changes in the brain that lead to increased craving and diminished capacity for the control of impulses. Given the growing biological understanding of addiction, it is critical for scientists to play an active role in drug policy because, as neuroscientific understanding develops, we will, to a much greater degree, be able to target specific behavioral, pharmaceutical, and neurological treatments for specific addictions. It is important to emphasize that biological explanations will not become equivalent to exculpation. Instead, the goal of explanation is to introduce rational sentencing and the opportunity for customized rehabilitation. This approach is likely to show more utility and less cost than incarceration. The neuroscientific community should continue to develop rehabilitative strategies so that the legal community can take advantage of those strategies for a rational, customized approach to drug addiction.
Keywords: drug, addiction, dependence, craving, impulses, biological, policy, neuroscience, neuroscientific, pharmaceutical, neurological, treatment, sentencing, rehabilitation, rehabilitative
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