Visualizing the firestorms in the brain: An inside look at the clinical and physiological connections between drugs and violence using brain SPECT imaging.

The connection between drugs and violence has been well documented. Understanding the intricacies of this connection is essential to finding effective interventions. Much has been written about the psychosocial causes of these problems, but there have been few studies exploring the biophysiological interface between drug effects, violent behavior and brain metabolism. Over the past eight years, The Amen Clinic has been extensively involved in the clinical use of brain SPECT imaging to evaluate complicated neuropsychiatric problems, especially related to the issues of both violence and substance abuse. From this work several clinical patterns, as well as brain SPECT imaging patterns, have been recognized that may help further our understanding of these problems. In this article, following a brief review of the literature on drugs, violence and the brain, five clinical examples are explored; the authors show how these support the clinical utility of incorporating SPECT imaging into psychiatric assessment of drug abuse and violence. Finally, a model is proposed to help explain the complex interaction between the brain, violence and drug abuse.

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