Scientific advances have revolutionized our understanding of addiction as a chronic, relapsing disease and not a moral failure.
Drug addiction is a complex illness which is characterized by intense and, at times, uncontrollable drug craving, along with compulsive drug seeking and use that persist even in the face of devastating consequences. Addiction affects multiple brain circuits, including those involved in reward and motivation, learning and memory, and inhibitory control over behaviour. While a person initially chooses to take drugs, over time the effects of prolonged exposure on brain functioning compromise that ability to choose, and seeking and consuming the drug become compulsive, often eluding a person's self-control or willpower. Because drug abuse and addiction have so many dimensions and disrupt so many aspects of an individual's life, treatment is not simple. Addiction treatment must help the individual stop using drugs, maintain a drug-free lifestyle, and achieve productive functioning in the family, at work, and in society.
GABA is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and is implicated in the central reward process, a neurophysiologic process that underlies the uncontrolled, compulsive behaviours defining the addicted state. Preclinical experiments and randomised clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of the GABA¬B receptor agonist baclofen in reducing alcohol withdrawal syndrome and voluntary alcohol intake.
ADX71441 is a novel, oral, small molecule GABA¬B receptor positive allosteric modulator and is being studied for the treatment of drug abuse and alcohol use disorder in collaboration with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), respectively.