We've all heard horror stories about cocaine addiction. But have you ever wondered what exactly makes this party drug so hard to resist?
Apparently, the way blow affects your brain is to blame.
However, that's not the only reason it's so hard to kick a coke habit.
In a recent study conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre, researchers found that cocaine also puts the brain into a "priming effect," from which it never completely recovers.
For the experiment, scientists let lab rats self-administer cocaine for up to six hours a day to mimic cocaine addiction in humans.
After five days of giving the rats free range to the drug, the cocaine was removed and the rats were put on a drug hiatus that lasted for 14 or 60 days.
While the rats were detoxing from their drug binge, the researchers examined their dopamine transporters and found that they returned to their normal, pre-drug levels.
However, once the rats were reintroduced to cocaine, it only took a single dose to make their cocaine tolerance jump back to the same levels exhibited during their highest usage period.
The experiment's control group (rats who received no cocaine), did not display the same effect, which implies that the "priming effect" is responsible for the addictive behaviors displayed by the drug-using group.
The study's lead author, Dr. Sara R. Jones, stated,
This "priming effect" could shed some light on why relapse is so common amongst recovering cocaine addicts. And hopefully the findings of this study will help scientists develop a better understanding of how to deal with drug addiction.