Common Biology of Mental Illness and Addiction


There is strong evidence that co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse diagnoses are influenced by more than environmental factors. The purpose of this full-day presentation is to provide the biological background which links chronic mental illness, substance abuse and behavior. In turn, data supporting a biological link for this “dually diagnosed” population should serve as the impetus for developing programs that can cost-effectively serve such a population. Participants should be aware that neuropsychology, like psychopharmacology are very young sciences. As a consequence presented topics will require much more research in order to answer many of the questions related to neuroscience and psychopharmacology. Only a fraction of available information can be presented even in a one day format. Additional resources will be provided to the students.

Learning Objectives: By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

    •          Describe the common brain mechanisms underlying major mental illness (schizophrenia in particular) and substance abuse
    •          Compare and contrast the symptoms of the major mental illness and those of intoxication, withdrawal, and abstinence
    •          Discuss the role of genetic risk factors in the development of mental illness and addictive behaviors
    •          Summarize one method (chi square) of describing mental health and addictive behaviors
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