Health Watch -- The Nervous System: Cocaine Cravings

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This week on Health Watch, we're talking about the brain and nervous system. One reason that abused drugs can be so dangerous is the effect they have on the brain. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found that cocaine causes biological changes in the brain that lead to cravings and addiction.

Dr. David Self, a UT Southwestern psychiatrist, says the brains of those who are addicted to cocaine essentially have been rewired to crave the drug. Those changes also make pleasure from other rewarding life events less likely. Even the drug itself becomes less satisfying, so more and more of it is needed. As a way of treating addiction, researchers are trying to find ways to strengthen the systems in the brain that inhibit the cravings.


April 2006

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