BRAINWeek Expert Opinion

The Brain Can Change? Neurobiology of Addiction

Hear experts in pharmacological interventions for substance use disorders discuss the physiological nature of these disorders, as well as systemic problems such as provider shortages. Addiction, they say, becomes a pathological form of learning in which the brain is rewired to seek substances at the expense of all else. Patients who managed addiction disorders with abstinence alone experienced low recovery rates, in part, because the physiological circuits in addiction are often too strong to break without pharmaceutical interventions. However, with the right multifaceted interventions, including medication, counseling, support programs, and personalized treatment, “highjacked” circuits can be re-wired for successful recoveries.


  • Nathan Menke, M.D., Ph.D. Addiction Consult Service Director, Practicing Physician, and Clinical Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan Addiction Center. He is board certified in Addiction Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Medical Toxicology

  • Jillian DiClemente, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist- Pain Management at Pain Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

  • Hannah Cawaski, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacy Specialist – Addiction Medicine, Center for Inclusion Health, Recovery Medicine

With Responsible Implementation, Cannabis and Psychedelics Hold Great Promise

Eugene Vortsman, DO, is the clinical director of addiction medicine and disease management and chair of the pain committee at Northwell Health in New York. Passionate about exploring and implementing innovative clinical strategies, Dr. Vortsman specializes in pain management, mental health, addiction, and substance use disorders. As part of his practice, Dr. Vortsman aims to improve the current standard of care for major depressive disorder and other common mental illnesses by elucidating the role that emerging therapeutics – including psilocybin and other psychedelics – can play in psychological treatments, as well as their promising potential in pain management and addiction medicine. However, he underscores the need for further research in this field alongside robust policy-making, resource development, and comprehensive clinical training before such interventions can become mainstream.


  • Eugene Vortsman, DO

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