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Cocaine Addiction and Brain Chemistry

Repeated use of dangerous and addictive stimulant drugs, such as cocaine, often causes a powerful physical and mental dependency that can be difficult to overcome without attending an inpatient rehab program.

Recently, a new study has found that stimulant drugs actually change and manipulate the brain’s circuitry, which makes recovery following addiction to such drugs an even more difficult process.  At the University of California, Berkeley, researchers found that individuals with a history of using cocaine now show changes in their brain’s chemistry that cause the neurotransmitter dopamine to immediately be released whenever the recovering addict is exposed to cocaine-associated stimuli.

The study also showed that dopamine is released into areas of the brain that are more vulnerable and susceptible to changes.  These findings may help explain why recovering cocaine addicts still feel cravings for the drug, even after they have gone through withdrawal, attended a treatment program, and remained sober for extended periods of time.  Researchers are not sure yet if this alteration in brain chemistry can be reversed, but they do agree that there is a better chance of success with the help of an inpatient drug rehabilitation program.

 

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