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How Your Brain “Learns” Cocaine Addiction

Paul Worley, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and his team of researchers recently published the results of a study, which found that a learning-related protein is needed to become addicted to cocaine. These findings could affect the way people are treated for cocaine addiction in the future.

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Worley and his team describe how the learning-protein works in the August 1 journal Cell. The learning protein works with other proteins to form new pathways in the brain in response to drug induced rushes of “pleasure molecule dopamine.” Worley stated, “The broad question was why and how cocaine strengthened certain circuits in the brain long-term, effectively re-writing the brain for addiction.”  The team of Johns Hopkins researchers found out how two different types of systems in the brain work together to make this happen.

Like many scientific breakthroughs, Paul Worley stumbled across this path of discovery without intending to. In 2001 GlaxoSmithKline researcher Francois Conquet reported that deleting protein complex mGluR5 made mice unresponsive to cocaine. Worley was familiar with mGluR5 because of his work with early genes, but was surprised by this finding. He and his team then set out to find an explanation.

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Worley’s team identified a process which explains how cocaine exposure can “co-opt normal mechanisms of learning to induce addiction.” Understanding the details of the mechanism could help identify targets for potential drugs to treat addiction.

Any advancement in drug treatment is an exciting one. Considering how addictive cocaine is to many individuals, this brings an exceptionally high level of excitement to the field of addiction treatment. However, we must still treat drug addiction as we currently know how.

Prominence Treatment Center has a long-history of helping addicts treat their addictions. Through our Non 12-Step program, we focus on the addict’s underlying reason for drug addiction as well as the physical symptoms of drug addiction. This dual approach to drug treatment is what brings our clients the highest levels of treatment success.

If you’re interested in learning more about Prominence Treatment Center’s drug addiction treatment programs, please contact one of our representatives today. Our representative will personally discuss with you, your situation and what options are available to you. Please do not hesitate to call if you are in need of help. 877-383-2284

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