Publication trends in addiction research


Rainer Spanagel, Central Institute for Mental Health, Square J5, D-68159 Mannheim, Germany. E-mail:


As opportunities to use and abuse drugs have tremendously increased during the past 50 years, so has addiction research. Here, we provide a systematic review on publication trends in the addiction research field. We examined publication trends in different subject categories of journals including general and multi-disciplinary science, neuroscience, pharmacology, psychiatry and, as a final and most important category, substance abuse. In this first report, we provide a brief comprehensive overview on what has been published in terms of addiction in the general and multi-disciplinary science category versus Addiction Biology within the past decade. We reviewed the literature within three time windows 1999/2000, 2004/2005 and 2009/2010 and selected the number of publications (1) according to the country/region where the original study was conducted; (2) according to the drug classes; (3) according to animal versus human studies; (4) and in terms of methodological trends such as genetic association studies and neuro-imaging. We found a 350% increase in addiction-related publications in the general and multi-disciplinary science category within the past decade. This increase, however, was mainly due to increased publication output from the United States. Concerning drug classes, alcohol-, nicotine- and psychostimulant-related publications clearly increased between 1999 and 2010, whereas published papers related to opioids decreased over time. There were also strongly increasing trends for genetic and imaging studies in the addiction field over time. These publication trends are also reflected to a certain degree by published studies in Addiction Biology.