Equipe Deroche

Psychobiology of drug addiction

Principal investigator: Véronique Deroche-Gamonet, PhD.

Drug use can lead to behavioral disorders of which an extreme version is addiction.

This psychopathology is defined as a loss of control over use. It is particularly reflected in the maintenance of use despite its adverse effects on health and / or social life.

All over the world, drug addiction is a public health problem. In this context, cocaine and tobacco are particularly problematic.

Cocaine addiction affects only about 20% of users, but the use of cocaine, and therefore the incidence of addiction, is steadily increasing, especially in Europe. However, no treatment exists, even substitutive, against cocaine addiction.

Regarding tobacco, the incidence of addiction is very high, due in particular to the legal nature of the substance and its very strong addictive power (nearly 40% of consumers develop an addiction). Unlike cocaine, tobacco does not alter behavior, and the development of addiction is not very desocializing. But chronic smoking leads to serious and often fatal conditions that could be prevented if the 70% of smokers who want to quit would succeed. Unlike cocaine, therapeutic aids to quit smoking exist but they are effective only in a limited number of subjects and, above all, they do not efficiently prevent smoking relapse.

Our goal is to help improve the understanding of the psychobiological mechanisms of cocaine and tobacco addiction, so that eventually effective therapeutic solutions can be developed.

The originality of our experimental strategy lies in taking into account individual vulnerabilities, largely ignored in psychopharmacology. Indeed, all users are not at risk for addiction and drug use is not sufficient to induce an addiction. Moreover, regarding tobacco, clinical data indicate that the expression of addiction, hence the underlying psychobiological mechanisms, can differ from one smoker to another.

In studying the psychobiological mechanisms of cocaine and nicotine (the main addictive compound of tobacco) addiction, we apply methods of experimental psychology and psychopharmacology that we combine with complementary techniques for neurobiological exploration; from molecular level to functional connectivity.

Team members

Team leader

Giulia DE MAIO

Jean-François FIANCETTE

ITA (33%)


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