Former Cocaine Users More Prone to Relapse
Research from the University of East Anglia states that cocaine use can cause major changes in the brain, specifically making former cocaine users more prone to relapse. This research was published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
The purpose of the study was to examine why cocaine users are more likely to relapse than other drug users. To do so, researchers gave cocaine to both live rats and in rat brain cells. After injecting the cocaine, researchers would watch how two neuropeptides interacted in the reward part of the brain. They also observed how the stress neuropeptides reacted to the cocaine. Neuropepties are messenger molecules that carry information to different parts of the brain.
They found that the cocaine did interact with the neuropeptides in both the reward and stress systems of the brain. Over time, the drug also disrupts the connection between these neuropeptides. Because of this, when a former cocaine user is under stress they are more likely to relapse back to cocaine use.
Researchers are forming ways to fix the disrupted interaction between reward and stress systems of the brain to lower the chances of relapse.