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Cellular Behavior May Offer Key to Drug Cravings

A recent study has discovered a cellular mechanism that may hold the key to an individual’s drug cravings. The results of the research were published in the journal Neuron.

The research focused on the brain’s reward center and its mechanism. According to the people behind the study, self-administered cocaine seems to elicit distinct responses compared to the more passive cocaine injection. It further studied the mechanism of dopamine neurons located in the ventral tegmental area of the brain.

This area is said to be linked to natural reward mechanisms as well as in learning and memory processes. In other separate studies, it was found that VTA DA neurons manifest plasticity of excitatory glutamate synapses; hence, their link to learning.

Dopamine neurons have always been associated with motivated behaviors as well as to drug addictions. However, until this study, the mechanism through which these neurons are affected by cocaine are not fully established. According to Dr Antonello Bonci of the University of California, San Francisco who also headed this particular study, “While usurpation of learning and memory processes may support persistent seeking of abused drugs, common synaptic mechanisms of natural and drug reinforcement have not been demonstrated.”

Dr Bonci and his team found that when cocaine is actively administered into the body, it caused an excitation of the VTA synapses that will continue on even after three months of abstaining from the drug. This can potentially explain the occurrence of relapse and drug-seeking behaviors even after the individual has already gone through detox. Self-administration includes acts that offer natural rewards such as eating sweets. They elicit a different response in the body as compared to when the drug or any other substance is injected into the body.

The researchers recommend further studies on this idea especially in how self-administration can actually cause lasting responses in the brain.

Meanwhile, Miramar Recovery Centers will continue to stay on top of recent developments in the industry so they can apply a more holistic approach to drug addiction treatment for their clients. Learn more by browsing through this website today.