Your Brain On Cocaine

A new study suggests cocaine may not just provide a high but alter the way your brain operates.

“Though we think about our genes mostly in terms of the traits we pass on to our children, they are actually very active in our lives every day, regulating how various cells in our bodies behave,” Time Magazine recently reported. They were talking about a new study that seems to prove the use of cocaine doesn’t just provide a high, it also changes the way your brain functions.

Published in the Jan. 8 issue of Science magazine, the study used mice to do research in the up-and-coming field of epigenetics, an area of science that explores how experiences and environmental exposures affect genes.

“Any significant experience triggers changes in brain genes that produce proteins — those necessary to help memories form, for example,” Time continued. “But, says the study’s lead author, Ian Maze, a doctoral student at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, ‘when you give an animal a single dose of cocaine, you start to have genes aberrantly turn on and off in a strange pattern that we are still trying to figure out.’”

Cocaine effects on brain

The G9a Protein

The study centers around the G9a protein and suggests that repeated use of cocaine stimulates an overactive gene to cause brain cells to generate more dendritic spines (the parts of cells that make connections to other cells), Time reported. In terms of addiction, this function may also be linked to producing a desire for more drugs in the individual.

Of course, studies on mice don’t always translate perfectly to humans, and this latest research doesn’t have scientists racing to develop a G9a-based treatment for addiction. Still, the more we learn about the way specific drugs affect the brain and the body, the more effectively we can treat addiction and even spot those at risk before they become addicted.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

If you or a family member is struggling with a drug addiction, call The Oaks at La Paloma at our toll-free number. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.

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