TA: Monica Farfan
The Biology of Cocaine Addiction
Drugs are addictive substances that produce pleasant states such as euphoria or relieve distress. Drugs are classified into categories which include: depressants, stimulants, and hallucinogens. Depending on the type of drug and the way it is used, referring to if it is sniffed, swallowed, injected, or smoked depends the effect the addiction of that drug has on the body. Scientists such as Koob and Le Moal argue that drug addiction is caused by the dysregulation of the reward mechanism and subsequent allostasis which is the ability to achieve stability through change (Cami and Farre, 2003). Drug addiction produces adaptive changes in the central nervous system that lead to tolerance, physical dependence, sensitization, craving, and relapse (Cami &Farre, 2003). Cocaine is a stimulant that blocks pain sensation and stimulates the central nervous system which causes the heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure to increase. In the brain, cocaine is responsible for blocking the reabsorption of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine which creates a feeling of well-being, self-confidence, alertness, and lack of hunger.
Cocaine like other drugs are characterized by: inducing well-being, alertness, magnifying normal pleasures, enhancing emotions and sexual feeling, increasing self-confidence and self-perceptions, decreasing anxiety, facilitating interpersonal communication, and producing a lack of hunger (Gawin, 1991). According to Gawin (1991), cocaine addicts report that during binges everything including: nourishment, sleep, money, family, responsibilities, and survival, are all focused on cocaine. After long-term cocaine use, cocaine a...
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... Heng, L. J., ... & Wolf, M. E. (2011). Alterations in AMPA receptor subunits and TARPs in the rat nucleus accumbens related to the formation of Ca 2+-permeable AMPA receptors during the incubation of cocaine craving.Neuropharmacology, 61(7), 1141-1151.
Gawin, F. H. (1991). Cocaine addiction: psychology and neurophysiology.Science, 251(5001), 1580-1586.
Kalivas, P. W. (2007). Neurobiology of cocaine addiction: implications for new pharmacotherapy. The American Journal on Addictions, 16(2), 71-78.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (Revised 2009, May). NIDA research report: Cocaine abuseand addiction (NIH Publication No. 09-4166).
Porrino, L. J., Smith, H. R., Nader, M. A., & Beveridge, T. J. (2007). The effects of cocaine: a shifting target over the course of addiction. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 31(8), 1593-1600.
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