As we have seen, the pleasure derived from various drugs' activation of the brain's natural reward system promotes continued drug use during the initial stages of opioid addiction. Subsequently, repeated exposure to these drugs induces the brain mechanism of dependence, which leads to daily drug use to avert the unpleasant symptoms of drug withdrawal for many substances, although for some drugs, withdrawal symptoms are minimal and may contribute minimally to dependence features and relapse after discontinuation. Further prolonged use of drugs that produce dependence lead to more long-lasting changes in the brain that may underlie the compulsive drug-seeking behavior and related adverse consequences that are the hallmarks of addiction. Recent research has generated several models to explain how habitual drug use produces changes in the brain that may lead to drug addiction. In reality, the process of addiction probably involves components from each of these models, as well as other features.
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