Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Hijack hypothesis of drug addiction

Hijack hypothesis of drug addiction:
What is the hijack hypothesis, what is the evidence, and how does it help to understand drug addiction?


This chapter focuses on the hijack hypothesis of drug addiction. Covering multiple domains of psychology to get a better understanding, these include the neurological underpinnings of the brain associated to the Mesolimbic Dopamine System (MDS) and the dual process theory of reason and decision making as well as behavioral learning theories such as social learning and, operant and classical conditioning. However, before exploring these theories associated with addiction, it is vital to grasp an understanding of addiction in order to see how they all tie come together.

How has it helped understand drug addiction?Edit

The Hijack Hypothesis places emphasis on explaining how the human neurobiological mechanisms within the brain interact with psychoactive chemicals. It proposes a reasonable explanation about how the reward system becomes 'hijacked' (or interfered with) by addictive stimulants, particularity plant-based psychoactive drugs (Hagen, E.H., 2013).

The idea is that stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and depressants such as, but not limited to, cannabis, interfere with the natural reward systems of the brain. Specifically, how the level of dopamine within the brain is increased, and eventually leads to the usurping of the mesolimbic pathways[grammar?].


  • Evolution of addiction (brief history of it's[grammar?] development)
  • Why is it Important that we understand addiction?
  • Definition of addiction. Refer to the youtube video in external links.
  • "Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong" with Johann Hari

The brainEdit

The brain:

  • Amygdala (Abuse. S., et al. 2016)
  • Ventral Tegmental Area (Abuse. S., et al. 2016)
  • Nucleus Accumbens (Abuse. S., et al. 2016)
  • Prefrontal Cortex (Abuse. S., et al. 2016)
  • Orbitofrontal Cortex ( Abuse. S., et al. 2016)
  • Basal Ganglia (Abuse. S., et al. 2016) There will be more references to support.

The Mesolimbic SystemEdit

  • Will explain the reward system (Hagen, E, H. et al. 2013)
Dopaminergic system and reward processing
  • Discuss dopamine
  • There will be figures and diagrams here for easy description.

Dual-Process TheoryEdit

  • Basic history of theory
  • what it means (Groves, P. M., Thompson, R. F. 1970).
  • How it applies

Social LearningEdit

  • Basic history of theory
  • what it means
  • How it applies

Operant and Classical conditioningEdit

  • Basic history of theories
  • what they means
  • How they apply


See alsoEdit


Abuse, S., US, M. H. S. A., & Office of the Surgeon General (US. (2016). THE NEUROBIOLOGY OF SUBSTANCE USE, MISUSE, AND ADDICTION. In Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health [Internet]. US Department of Health and Human Services.

Groves, P. M., & Thompson, R. F. (1970). Habituation: a dual-process theory. Psychological review, 77(5), 419.

Hagen, E. H., Roulette, C. J., & Sullivan, R. J. (2013). Explaining human recreational use of ‘pesticides’: the neurotoxin regulation model of substance use vs. the hijack model and implications for age and sex differences in drug consumption. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 4, 142

External linksEdit