Easing The Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal With Neuroscience

More Cocaine Addiction Tools

There may be another tool to help overcome cocaine addiction. A vaccine for cocaine addiction is about to begin human trials, but there may be another route to stopping the abuse of cocaine.

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) conducted a new study on cocaine addiction. The study was headed by George F. Koob (chair of TSRI’s Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders) and Marisa Roberto (associate professor in TSRI’s addiction research group, the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders).

This new study has discovered that the central amygdala area of the brain has an important role in continuing a cocaine addiction. The central amygdala participates in the feelings of depression and sadness, and this function is believed to increase when cocaine is consistently abused.

How Does it Work?

The central amygdala contains brain receptors called kappa opioid receptors, which is a receptor for the stress hormone CRF. There is also a type of neurotransmitters identified as dynorphins in the central amygdala.

There is an elevated concentration of dynorphins in the central amygdala, which bind to kappa opioid receptors. During cocaine abuse, this portion of the brain becomes overactive and increases the effects of drug withdrawal, anxiety and other unpleasant withdrawal behaviors.

Blocking the “Negative Feelings

It is believed that the avoidance of these negative feelings is a major contributing factor in maintaining the addiction. By blocking the “negative” circuitry in the brain, this may reduce the need to continue a cocaine addiction to avoid the effects of withdrawal.

In addition, this approach may be able to leave the “positive” brain circuitry (release of dopamine) unhindered so as to allow the addict to continue to experience feelings of pleasure. The ability to feel pleasure can be a major aide in overcoming a cocaine addiction.

Long Term Cocaine Addiction Relief

Hopefully, by blocking the overactivity of the kappa opioid receptors, the cocaine addict can end the addiction and not need to keep using to avoid the negative effects of withdrawal and still be able to experience the feelings of pleasure. This combination could lead to a higher rate of success for those fighting a cocaine addiction.

Learn more about cocaine and cocaine addiction here


1. http://www.scripps.edu/news/press/2013/20130612roberto.html