The Physiology Of Addiction

The Physiology Of Addiction

(Presentation date June 24, 2014)

Course Description

Addiction is a chronic brain disease involving complex physiologic processes. Inherent physiologic characteristics influence how individuals response to substances and individual vulnerability to addiction. The physiology of the brain and body is altered by use of alcohol and other drugs and also changes when a person enters into recovery. This program will explore the differences in neurochemistry between the addicted brain and the normal brain, the progression of physiological changes that occur in chemically dependent individuals, the mechanisms of physiologic tolerance and withdrawal, medical complications of alcohol/other drug addiction and medical options for treating people with addiction.


The goals of this presentation are to:

  1. Provide participants with a basic understanding of the differences in neurochemistry between the addicted brain and the normal brain and the progression of physiological changes and problems that occur in people with alcohol/other drug dependencies.
  2. Provide an overview of options for medical treatment of people with addiction.


After completing this program participants will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Describe two or more differences between physiologic dependence and addiction.
  2. State one or more way(s) in which the brain physiology of a person with addiction differs from the brain physiology of a non-addicted person.
  3. List three or more medical complications of alcohol/other drug addiction.
  4. List three or more methods for treating addiction.

About the Presenters

Carl Christensen, MD, PhD, FASOG, FASAM; and Emily Brunner, MD.

CarlDr. Carl Christensen is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. He obtained his MD and PhD in Biochemistry at Wayne State University School of Medicine and did his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hutzel Hospital. He then completed a Fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at Duke University Medical Center. He was Associate Residency Director of the OB Gyn Residency until 2012. He later became certified in Addiction Medicine and is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is the past president of the Michigan Society of Addiction Medicine and the current Medical Director of the Michigan Health Professional Recovery Program, which monitors impaired nurses, pharmacists and doctors. He is the current Medical Director of the James Wardell Women’s Recovery Center, an outpatient program dedicated to caring for pregnant, chemically dependent women, as well as the Medical Director at the Tolan Medical Research Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry at WSU. He is also the Medical Director for Dawn Farm. Dr Christensen also specializes in the treatment of chronic pain, especially pelvic pain. He has received numerous teaching awards and has been named one of the “Top Docs” in Addiction Medicine in Hour Magazine for 2006 through 2013.

???????????????????????????????Dr. Emily Brunner practiced with Packard Health System in Ann Arbor, Michigan from October 2012 until 2014, specializing in primary care as well as treating patients with addiction problems. During this time Dr. Brunner was also the Medical Director of the detoxification program at the Home of New Vision in Ann Arbor. She is currently a staff physician at the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. Dr. Brunner received her Bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her MD from the University of Michigan. Her family medicine residency was completed at the University of Michigan Hospital. She is Board Certified in Family Medicine and a member of the American Society of Family Medicine and the American Academy of Addiction Medicine.

Number of CE hours offered

1.5 CEH, approved by MCBAP and NAADAC (specific.) A passing grade of 80% on the final exam is required for CE hours to be awarded.

Course Content