By Staff Writer
Individuals who use cocaine often become addicted to the drug, even after one use. Addicts frequently report needing support from addiction treatment centers in order to end their destructive habits.
A new study has found that the drug’s intensely addictive properties may have more to do with reprogramming of the brain’s neurotransmitter system than previously thought.
A team of researchers from Linkoping University in Sweden found that mice who lack receptors in the brain for the neurotransmitter glutamate were less likely to develop addictions after ingesting cocaine than mice with normal brain function.
It was thought that the neurotransmitter dopamine was linked to addiction. Dopamine is responsible for responses to pleasurable stimuli, such as food or sex. However, cocaine and other drugs also cause the release of the chemical, which can lead to powerful addictions.
Researchers said that their findings may help explain the prevalence of relapse among cocaine addicts by showing that various areas of the brain come to rely on drugs, rather than just one.
They said that they hope the study will lead to improved treatments that, along with rehabilitation, could help more addicts end their dependencies.