By Staff Writer
Cocaine use may impair the brain’s ability to maintain motivation and attention, which could jeopardize the relapse prevention efforts of those who are recovering from addiction, according to a new study from researchers at the Brookhaven National Laboratory.
The researchers arrived at this conclusion after examining the brain activity of both current and past cocaine users as they were shown images of the drug as well as other emotionally evocative scenes.
Areas of the brain associated with attention and motivation lit up immediately when current cocaine users were shown pictures of the drug. However, compared to past users, this attention quickly subsided. Additionally, these individuals showed little response to images that were intended to evoke positive emotional thoughts.
While a dampened response to images of cocaine may seem useful, the findings may underscore deeper problems. The researchers said that it may indicate that cocaine abuse blunts motivation. This could make it more difficult to get an addict interested in seeking drug rehab treatment or maintaining sobriety, as they may have a more difficult time keeping in mind the potential benefits of abstaining from drug use.