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Abstract

Disinhibition and addictive behaviors are related and carry moral implications. Both typically involve diminished consideration of negative consequences, which may result in harm to oneself or others. Disinhibition may occur on state and trait levels, and addictive substances may elicit disinhibitory states, particularly when intoxication is reached. Data suggest that trait disinhibition and addictions may be conceptualized as involving misdirected motivation with underlying biological bases including genetic factors, alterations in neurotransmitter systems and differences in regional brain function. The influences of intoxication on the brain share similarities with cognitive impairments in individuals with chronic substance abuse and those with trait disinhibition related to frontal lobe injuries. These findings raise questions about volitional impairment and morality. Although impaired volition related to disinhibition and addictive behaviors has been studied from multiple perspectives, additional research is needed to further characterize mechanisms of impairment. Such findings may have important implications in multiple legal and psychiatric domains. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.