Scientists have warned that even a single dose of cocaine can cause profound changes in the brain. Furthermore, it’s thought that these changes weaken self-control which means that a recovering addict is more likely to relapse.
The research, which was carried out at the University of East Anglia carried out an experiment on rats and the results revealed that cocaine drives a wedge between two key brain proteins and interrupts the communication between them. This break in communication makes it harder for the brain to deal with stress and therefore increases the odds that a user will seek comfort in the drug once again.
Although the experiment was carried out on rats, Doctor Peter McCormick is confident that the findings are applicable to humans. The researcher said that relapse among cocaine addicts is a major problem and that by identifying a potential mechanism for protection against this happening, they may be able to minimise stress-driven relapses.
Further supporting this argument is information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse which says that cocaine increases levels of the neurotransmitter, dopamine in the brain. This is what regulates pleasure and movement and the flood of dopamine is what results in the ‘high’ that users experience.
As someone continues to use the drug, their brain systems (most notably the reward system), experiences changes that lead to addiction. Repeated use leads to a tolerance that results in the addict needing more and more cocaine in order to reach their ‘high’.
If you think that you or someone you know may have an addiction to cocaine, please feel free to visit our Drug Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation page for more information about the signs, symptoms and treatments available. You can also contact us today for help.