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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: What does chronic cocaine abuse do to the brain to cause addiction?
Author: Fraser Trevor
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brains! (Photo credit: cloois ) 20 years ago, scientists identified the specific brain mechanisms that underlie the cocaine high. Si...
brains!
brains! (Photo credit: cloois)
20 years ago, scientists identified the specific brain mechanisms that underlie the cocaine high. Since then, neurobiologists have focused on the followup questions: What does chronic cocaine abuse do to the brain to cause addiction? In clinical terms, how does repeated cocaine exposure make individuals compulsively continue to take the drug even when they know it may cost them their jobs, possessions, loved ones, freedom, and even their lives? Why do people with every reason and intention to quit for good find it so hard to get away from the drug, and why do they remain vulnerable to relapse after years of abstinence?
We do not yet have complete answers to these questions, but we have learned a great deal. We now know that cocaine affects brain cells in a variety of ways. Some of its effects revert quickly to normal. Others persist for weeks after the drug leaves the brain. With repeated exposure to cocaine, these short- and intermediate-term effects cumulatively give rise to further effects that last for months or years and may be irreversible.
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