Psychopharmacology, Second EditionJerrold S. Meyer Linda F. Quenzer University of Massachusetts University of Hartford. Rice, Susan A. Rice and Associates, Inc. Chapter 21, Neurodegenerative Diseases by Jennifer R. Yates, Ohio Wesleyan University.
The Neurobiology of Cocaine Addiction
An initial, short-term effect—a buildup of the neurochemical dopamine—gives rise to euphoria and a desire to take the drug again. Further pursuit of this and similar leads are first steps toward a complete understanding of the transition from cocaine abuse to addiction—and, ultimately, more effective treatments for those who are addicted. Some 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.
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