For the Classroom

Guess the Disorder Quiz: Addiction

  • Published11 Jul 2018
  • Reviewed11 Jul 2018
  • Author Emma Lindberg
  • Source BrainFacts/SfN


Neurologists and psychiatrists work every day to diagnose patients. One way they do this is by observing patients and asking them to describe their symptoms. In this activity, students will fill the role of a neurologist trying to diagnose a disease or disorder based on the evidence provided.

After studying the provided materials on diseases and disorders in the eighth edition of Brain Facts, students will investigate the symptoms of an unnamed disease using a handful of clues. Students will sift through their knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases, injury, and psychiatric disorders to eliminate wrong answers and solve the mystery.

Prep Work

This activity is based on chapters 11–15 (pages 71–104) of the eighth edition of Brain Facts. Encourage students to read the chapters during class time or on their own to study for the Guess the Disorder Quiz.


  1. Provide your student with the “Disorder Clues” prompt.
  2. Ask your students to read the prompt and use the information they learned from the Brain Facts book to determine the diagnosis. This can be done individually or as a group.


After your students have completed the quiz, ask them to share their answers with the class. Ask each student or group to give their rationale as to why they chose the diagnosis they did.

Disorder Clues

This chronic brain disorder affects the body through physical and psychological dependence. Intentional, regular use of substances like opioids, alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs becomes this disorder when a person can no longer control their substance use despite negative consequences such as loss of control and harm to themselves or others.

One factor fueling this disorder is tolerance — when a person’s body becomes “used to” a drug and requires more of it to experience the same effect. Another factor is withdrawal, when lack of a drug causes the body to react with unpleasant or life-threatening physical symptoms, ranging from moderate headaches or muscle tremors or seizures. Finally, emotionally-triggered behaviors, such as pleasurable feelings or avoidance of withdrawal symptoms, leads to increased substance usage.

Cues or triggers, such as being in a place associated with drug or alcohol intake or being around other drug or alcohol users, also provoke drug-taking behavior.

It is important to realize, though, that drug use does not always lead to this disorder.





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