Researchers identify key brain circuit regulating cocaine addiction, relapse


Relapse is a common feature of addiction recovery – two in three patients treated for substance use disorder in the United States relapse within 12 months, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Substances of misuse hijack the brain’s pleasure and reward systems, reinforcing drug-seeking behaviors by flooding the system with “feel good” chemicals, while also producing long-lasting functional changes in brain regions that regulate decisions and motivation.

Combined, these hard-wired biological changes make drug cravings harder to ignore for some, but researchers are developing new ways to prevent relapse by chemically tweaking individual components of neuronal networks, leaving the rest of the brain intact.

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