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This leads us to another important aspect of cognition impairment in addiction; craving. It was thought previously drug abuse and addiction can best be explained by the ‘high’ produced by drugs. However, this simplistic view was challenged once it was discovered that disruptions in the frontal part of the brain due to repeated drug use was responsible for impairment in decision making, response inhibition and planning. Side-effects that were thought to be incidental findings in drug addicts have now been attributed to the effects of the drugs themselves.
One model of craving is the know/go system. This explains the interaction of cognition and emotion. A ‘cool’ know system and a hot emotional ‘go’ system are involved in craving and abstinence. The cool system is able to self-regulate and control whereas the hot system is impulsive and reflexive and the basis of classical conditioning. The balance between the emotional and composed systems is determined by stress, developmental maturity, and the individual’s self-regulatory dynamics.