Neurochemical imaging studies can identify molecular targets of abused drugs and link them to the underlying pathology associated with behaviors such as drug dependence, addiction and withdrawal. positron emission tomography (PET) is opening new avenues for the investigation of the neurochemical disturbances underlying drug abuse and addiction and the in vivo mechanisms by which medications might ameliorate these conditions. PET can identify vulnerable human populations, treatment strategies and monitor treatment efficacy. Thus, with this tool and the knowledge it provides, the potential for developing novel drugs and treatment strategies for drug addiction is now close at hand.
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The authors are grateful to Nora D. Volkow and Joanna S. Fowler for helpful comments and advice. Wynne K. Schiffer is supported by an NRSA fellowship award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA; F31-DA15874) and Stephen L. Dewey is supported by NIDA (DA015041), and also the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research (USDOE/OBER DE-AC02-98CH10886).