Craving is typically thought of as a classically conditioned response characterized by an elevated mesolimbic dopamine response to drug-related stimuli. Although this definition has spurred considerable research, the clinical impact of the research conducted has been less robust. The current review takes a more contemporary approach by conceptualizing craving as the breakdown of executive function and relative strengthening of the limbic system, occurring in the presence of conditioned cues, leading to a maladaptive craving response (ie, an increased likelihood of drug consumption). Working from this framework, the present review focuses on four issues in drug craving research: pivotal findings and limitations of cue-reactivity and neurocognitive tasks; two main processes of craving that include self-control and reward-based explanations; integration of neuroeconomic approaches to craving; and the theoretical implications and future directions of drug craving research.
Jarmolowicz, David P., Michael Sofis, and Laura Martin. "Competing Neurobehavioral Decision Systems and the Neuroeconomics of Craving in Opioid Addiction." NAN Neuroscience and Neuroeconomics (2014): 87. http://dx.doi.org/10.2147/NAN.S38866.