Cocaine Is More Addictive Than Anyone Thought, Say Scientists

Not to be sniffed at, this report is serious stuff

Cocaine Is Much More Addictive Than We First Thought

by Molly Shanahan |
Published on

Cocaine is a drug that's as problematic as it is ubiquitous. Now, new research published in the medical journal Scientific Reports suggests that cocaine is more addictive than first thought. Users could even become addicted after trying the drug just once.

The study focuses on the idea of visual cues and their potential for causing addictive tendencies. Seeing things related to the consumption of cocaine can release dopamine in an area of the brain associated with cravings. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter than helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres, it also causes us to seek out pleasurable activities.

The relationship between cocaine and dopamine and even the impact of visual cues is not exactly new news in the world of drug research. What is new though, is the concept of just how early these signs of addiction may be present. This means that people who use cocaine as a recreational drug could be in danger of becoming addicted much quicker than was first thought.

'The study provides evidence that some of the characteristic brain signals in people who have developed addictions are also present much earlier than most of us would have imagined,' said Prof Marco Leyton, an expert on the neurobiology of drug use and addictions at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.[


The study was carried out by filming recreational users taking the drug in a room with a friend. The researchers then showed the participants a video of the same friend taking cocaine alone at a later stage. Through a series of PET scans, scientists found that the reminder of this experience acted as a visual stimulus and was enough to release dopamine and cause cravings. These chemicals are affecting our brains in the very early stages of drug use, the same way they would if we were addicts.

The researchers, based in Canada, present a conclusion to their findings that the highly addictive nature of cocaine outlines the importance of providing help at very early stages of dependency to try and avoid the damaging effects of severe cocaine addiction.

So, next time you're thinking about taking coke you can add it's addictive qualities to its ethically questionable nature on the list of cons.

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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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