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Study finds brain system that may help treat cocaine addiction

Posted on 04-26-2017 Posted in Addiction, Treatment - 0 Comments

Known to increase the availability of neurotransmitter dopamine – responsible for generating euphoric effects – in the brain, cocaine is often abused with alcohol and other drugs, such as heroin and marijuana, making it a dangerous concoction. Cocaine is known to be one of the most addictive substances, and the treatment of its addiction generally involves a holistic approach, involving medically-supervised detoxification and behavioral therapies.

Now, a new study suggests that cocaine abuse can be treated by curbing physical and emotional cravings in the brain. The research, led by Brooke Schmeichel of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and her colleagues from the Scripps Research Institute, found a link between addiction and hypocretin/orexin (HCRT) brain system traditionally known to promote wakefulness and appetite. The study published online in the journal Biological Psychiatry on Apr. 1, 2017, used rats to examine the link between HCRT system and addiction.

The research team provided some rats with short-term (one hour) access to cocaine and others with long-term (six hours) access to the drug. During the study, the researchers noted that as compared to normal rats, the mammals exposed to cocaine over a longer period of time took less amount of the drug when their hypocretin signaling was blocked with an HCRT-R1 antagonist throughout the brain. However, the researchers did not observe the same effect in the rats with short-term access to cocaine.

“The results of this study would suggest that the hypocretin system could be considered a pharmacological target, with the hopes that a medication designed to target hypocretin receptors could be used in combination with cognitive behavioral therapies as part of a cocaine abuse treatment strategy,” said Schmeichel. Basis the new findings, the researchers hope to develop a drug that would target hypocretin receptors to curb cocaine abuse among its users.

Addiction to cocaine

Similar to other drugs, cocaine addiction is characterized by repeated use despite its adverse mental, physical and social consequences. Repeated use of cocaine – known by many names, including crack, snow, blow and coke – builds one’s tolerance levels, gradually requiring more quantity of the drug to achieve the same effect. This drug tolerance consequently leads to dependence.

Statistics suggest that cocaine has been a public health concern in the United States for years. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2015, 968,000 people aged 12 years or older initiated cocaine use in the previous year. Young adults are more vulnerable to cocaine use. The NSDUH data shows that an estimated 1.7 million young adults, aged 18 to 25, in the country used cocaine in the past year.

Cocaine abuse can lead to severe physical and psychological symptoms in individuals. A cocaine overdose can cause heart failure, seizures and stroke. In addition, long-term cocaine use is associated with reduced attention, diminished cognitive performance and weakening of decision-making abilities in its users.

Road to recovery

Characterized by severe drug cravings and extreme withdrawal symptoms, recovery from cocaine addiction should be ensured by professionals at certified cocaine rehab centers. Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone who is grappling with any substance abuse. The cocaine addiction treatment at Sovereign Health of Florida comprises medical detox, followed by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as well as individual and group therapies, along with the necessary medications. Sovereign’s cocaine addiction treatment is considered the best among the cocaine rehab centers in Florida as it also involves mindful techniques, including yoga, meditation and art therapy.

For more information on Sovereign Health’s cocaine addiction treatment programs please call at our 24/7 helpline number. You can also chat online with our trained counselors to know our cocaine rehab centers near you.

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The dual diagnosis program was what attracted me to Sovereign Health. My therapist was always open for discussion and the group sessions were very informative and educational.

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