Slide Decks on Substance Use Disorders and Other Addictions

Substance use disorders (SUD), and addictions in general, are characterized by the compulsion to seek out or take a substance or engage in certain behaviours, with the associated loss of control. Addiction is a relapsing brain disease, which can have a progressive disease course, characterized by the development of tolerance over time. 

Interested in learning more? You can learn about substance use disorders and fundamental concepts related to them by going through our slide decks. The slides have been reviewed by Professors David Nutt and Celia Morgan. Whether you are a student, educator, researcher, or simply someone interested in learning about substance use disorders these slides are freely available for you to learn from and to download and use.

History, Definitions, and Diagnosis

In this slide deck, basic concepts and definitions related to substance use disorders are explored. Theories of the underlying mechanisms are visualized, and a brief introduction to diagnostics based on DSM-5 and ICD-11 is given. Go to the slide deck.

Epidemiology and Burden

Substance use and addiction contribute to the global burden of disease. This deck discusses details on the prevalence and incidence of substance use disorders, global variance, disability-adjusted life years and risk factors for addiction. Go to the slide deck.

Neurobiology and Aetiology

The past 50 years have seen many breakthroughs in the study of addiction, from neurobiology to the molecular identification of the targets of addiction. This slide deck discusses in detail the neurobiology and aetiology of Substance Use Disorders (SUD). Go to the slide deck.

Course, Natural History, and Prognosis

Addiction is a relapsing brain disease, which can have a progressive disease course, characterized by the development of tolerance over time. This slide deck discusses in detail the course, natural history and prognosis of Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and other addictions. Go to the slide deck.


Many psychiatric disorders are more frequently observed in patients with substance-use disorders than in the general population, including mood disorders, anxiety, PTSD, and schizophrenia and psychotic disorders. Among people who relapse, psychiatric comorbidities are more common. Go to the slide deck.

Treatment Principles

There are a variety of evidence-based approaches to treating substance use disorders.  But there is no treatment that will fit every patient. It is important to balance the needs of the individual patient with the available options. Go to the slide deck.

Watch the Video on Substance Use Disorders

Our videos complement our recent articles by explaining complex topics, breaking down detailed figures, discussing current issues, and illustrating concepts vividly. For instance, Professor David Nutt shares insights to help us better understand treating substance use disorders and other addictions.

The challenges of treating substance use disorders and other addictions

In this video, you can learn about the greatest challenges of treating substance use disorders. Professor David Nutt discusses what the most significant harms of substance use disorders are. Also, you will discover the latest advancements for treating substance use disorders.

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Download Illustrations & Figures on Substance Use Disorders

Substance use is driven by the pharmacological effects of a drug, which are experienced as reinforcing/rewarding. The reinforcing effects of some drugs (e.g., stimulants and alcohol) are driven by dopamine signalling in the nucleus accumbens; for other drugs, different processes such as interactions with stress pathways also play a part.

Interaction between opiates and the dopaminergic system
The image illustrates the interaction between neurocircuitry and behaviour of addiction, divided into binge/intoxication, withdrawal/negative affect, and preoccupation/anticipation, each of which is associated with the activation of certain neurological pathways.
The interaction of alcohol with brain reward circuitry (I)
Brain changes resulting from chronic substance use
Infographic substance use disorders and other addictions global impact
The endogenous opioid system

3D Brain Atlas

Many regions and circuits in the brain are involved in the control of motivation, which can be dysregulated by substance-use disorders and other addictions. There are four key independent and overlapping circuits implicated in addiction, consisting of: