Experimental Results With Fosb
The authors research team hypothesized that increasing FosB levels might promote addictive behaviors independently of cocaines other effects in the brain. To investigate this idea, we needed to find a way to control levels of FosB in animals independently of cocaine exposure. Molecular biology gave us the tools to accomplish this. We bred a strain of mice that are genetically normal with one key difference: We can turn production of FosB within the mouse NAc on and off, at will, by giving or withholding a chemical that is completely inert in normal animals.
We tested the animals response to cocaine while varying their FosB levels. When we elevated levels of FosB in the NAc, the mice exhibited behaviors that are considered reliable indicators that exposing people to the same conditions would cause addiction: They showed more sensitivity to the drug , self-administered more drug, and displayed greater drive for cocaine . Conversely, when we blocked the activity of FosB, we saw the opposite effects, an overall blunting of the animals response to the drug. These results suggest that cocaines buildup of FosB is both necessary and sufficient for some of the drugs behavioral effects and, in particular, its ability to increase drug craving and drug taking .
Effects Of Cocaine On The Digestive System
Another physical effect of cocaine abuse is its effect on the guts good bacteria as well as the way it recedes the stomachs natural barrier to acidity. The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns of these additional risks on the digestive system:
- Damage to bowel tissues
- Reduced blood flow to the gut
- Acid reflux
Chronic Use May Also Reduce Your Bodys Ability To Store Fat
A 2013 study found that cocaine could mess with your body’s ability to store fat. The researchers observed 65 Britons, roughly half of whom had been addicted to cocaine for more than a decade.
They came away with two surprising findings: 1. The addicts tended to eat more than those who’d never used, and 2. They also tended to have less body fat than those who never used. Their conclusion? Cocaine seems to cause fundamental changes to our metabolism.
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Treatment Options For Cocaine Abuse
Here are some treatment options for cocaine abuse:
There are currently no medicines that can act as substitutes for cocaine and other stimulants.
However, health professionals may offer a few options to help patients deal with cocaine-related symptoms.1,18 These options include:
- IV benzodiazepines for agitation, hypertension, and seizures
- Cooling techniques for hyperthermia
- Sleep medications for sleep problems
- Disulfiram if the person also has both drug and alcohol use problems
Behavioral therapies are often the only available and effective treatments for cocaine addiction recovery.1, 19, 20 They include:
- Contingency management : Also called motivational incentives, this addiction treatment process uses a system that rewards points to patients who abstain from cocaine use. Patients can exchange these points for items like a gym membership, movie tickets, or anything that encourages healthy living.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy : This is effective for preventing relapse. In this setting, health professionals provide medical advice to help patients understand their substance use and develop essential skills for addiction recovery.
- Therapeutic communities : These are drug-free residences where residents help each other change their behaviors. They usually require a 6- to 12-month stay. They also include vocational rehabilitation and other services that can help residents be successfully reintegrated into society.
Why Do People Snort Cocaine
Snorting Cocaine is not the fastest way to absorb it and feel the high. Though its not as fast as smoking or injecting, the drugs effects can be felt for longer when its snorted. In order for the Cocaine to take hold, it must enter the bloodstream and flow to your brain. As you inhale the Cocaine, it coats the soft tissues in the nose and gets absorbed into the blood stream. To make it to the brain, the Cocaine flows in the blood its been absorbed into, first traveling to the lungs. The lungs incorporate oxygen into the blood and send it to the heart to be pumped to the brain and the rest of the body.
Once in the brain, Cocaine binds to certain receptors and guarantees that dopamine isnt being removed as it normally would be. The body naturally creates dopamine when you engage in activities it enjoys like getting exercise, eating food, and having sex. The end stages of your bodys use of dopamine include specialized proteins which remove it from your brains receptors in order to recycle it. Using Cocaine essentially blocks those recycling proteins from accessing the dopamine, causing its effects to continue. This interaction creates the euphoric effect Cocaine exhibits upon use. The way the body processes Cocaine may seem complicated, but it only takes minutes to fully absorb the drug and feel its effects.
Snorting Cocaine in its powdered form and coating the upper nasal cavity.
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Further Clues About Fosbs Significance
The NAc is the only brain region where FosB is found in normal animals. However, chronic administration of cocaine has recently been shown to increase FosB in several additional brain regions, such as the frontal cortex and amygdala . The accumulations of FosB are much smaller in these regions than those that cocaine causes in the NAc, and their behavioral consequences are still unknown. It is tempting to speculate, though, that the presence of FosB in the frontal cortex may contribute to the loss of frontal cortex control over cocaine urges that is seen in addiction. Although we do not yet have direct evidence of this possibility, it represents an additional mechanism by which FosB may contribute to a state of addiction.
Other Risks Of Cocaine Use
Here are some other risks of cocaine use:
Cocaine can trigger the release of several brain chemicals, one of which is dopamine.
In typical situations, the body releases dopamine to send a reward signal to the brain. This makes people feel good while doing certain activities, like eating delicious food, having sex, or exercising.
When a person uses cocaine, dopamine builds up and sends a more intense reward signal to the brain. This is what leads to the high feeling experienced by cocaine users.
The high feeling, however, doesnt last long. It wears off, leading the user to crash and feel sluggish.
Users would then feel the urge to binge-use with high doses of cocaine. This binge and crash cycle goes on, ultimately leading to cocaine addiction.
Furthermore, chronic cocaine users can develop tolerance to the high feeling.
They would use cocaine for pleasure, but they may not achieve the same feeling they had in their early stages of using cocaine. They would then increase the dose to intensify and prolong the pleasurable cocaine effects.
Long-term and frequent cocaine use can lead to more serious health problems.17 These conditions include:
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What Does Cocaine Do To The Body And Brain
Good read on the risks of cocaine use! Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., MAADC II
Made from the leaves of the coca plant, cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. While it is best known as an illegal street drug, cocaine has legitimate medical applications, especially as a topical anesthetic used during some surgical procedures.
When used recreationally, cocaine is usually snorted, rubbed on the gums, or dissolved in water and injected. It may also be used in the form of rock crystal, where users heat the crystal and inhale the smoke. Street names for cocaine include coke, rock, snow, blow, and crack. Illegal cocaine is often mixed with fillers such as cornstarch, or with other dangerous drugs like fentanyl. Because illegal drugs are unregulated, the user cannot be sure of what their product contains, which can prove fatal.
Health News recently reported that emergency room doctors are seeing an increase in visits and deaths involving cocaine laced with fentanyl or other potent drugs. Researchers have found, death rates involving cocaine increased by approximately one-third during 2016-2017. In many of these deaths, fentanyl or other dangerous additives have been identified.
Crossing The Bbb Turnpike
Your BBB is a barrier that separates circulating blood from your brain fluid and the entire central nervous system. Its a dynamic surface that responds to various signals. Its job is basically to let good stuff in and keep bad stuff out. So how does it respond to cocaine?
Cocaine scrambles the pieces of your complex BBB structure and disrupts its function. This leaves your brain open to other toxins, which leads to central nervous system disorders. Like what? Oh, just a few things like Alzheimers, Parkinsons, MS and neuroAIDS.
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Damage Caused By Long
If cocaine is regularly inhaled or snorted, it can damage the lining of the nose and the structure separating the nostrils. If injecting cocaine, there is a risk of blood poisoning, blood-borne viruses from shared equipment, damaged blood vessels and skin abscesses.Heart problems are another side effect of long-term cocaine use. Some people experience mental health problems, such as severe depression. A condition known as cocaine psychosis includes symptoms such as aggression and disturbing hallucinations, often of insects under the skin.
Why Is Cocaine Addictive
Cocaine alters brain chemistry. When people use the stimulant, excessive amounts of the chemical dopamine build up in the brain. Dopamine produces feelings of pleasure and happiness.
The flood of dopamine from cocaine use causes a euphoric high. Snorting cocaine produces a high that lasts for 30 minutes or less. Smoking crack or freebase cocaine has more powerful euphoric effects that last for just two to three minutes.
Some people mix cocaine with weed or other drugs. This increases the impact the drugs have on brain chemistry.
The feelings of euphoria caused by cocaine fade quickly, and people often experience a crash marked by fatigue and intense cravings to use the drug again. These factors cause many people to repeatedly use the substance.
Over time, the drug changes the brain. People develop a tolerance to cocaine, and they need to take more to achieve the desired effects.
Addiction is a brain disease that changes a persons physical, psychological and social health. Individuals who are addicted to cocaine experience intense impulses to use the drug. They may even begin stealing money to pay for cocaine.
Signs of cocaine addiction include:
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Cocaine Throws Your Brain Off Balance
The first way cocaine affects your brain is by affecting the production of neurotransmitters, the brains chemical messengers. Neurotransmitters carry, boost, and balance signals between cells in our body. Dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, signals our emotional responses, especially pleasure. Normally, the brain releases dopamine when we exercise, meditate, get a massage, have sex, eat good food, and listen to music we enjoy. When we do those things, small doses of dopamine travel through our brain cells and send messages of joy, amusement, and satisfaction.
But when you use cocaine, dopamine floods your brain. Theres so much of the chemical floating around that it doesnt have anywhere to go. This surge of dopamine is what makes you feel high and euphoric. But your brain quickly becomes accustomed to these abnormal levels of dopamine. High levels of dopamine build up and over-activate receiving cells in the brain. When this happens, normal levels of dopamine arent enough to produce the same pleasurable effects. Cocaine also throws off the brains balance by suppressing other neurotransmitters, including:
- Norepinephrine, which may lead to memory loss
- Serotonin, which can cause obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior
Individual Risk For Cocaine Addiction
What makes certain individuals particularly vulnerable to addiction and others relatively resistant? Extensive epidemiological studies show that roughly half of a persons risk for addiction to cocaine or other drugs is genetic . This degree of heritability exceeds that of many other conditions that are considered highly heritable, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and breast cancer.
The specific genes that confer risk for cocaine addiction remain unknown. One possibility is that at least some of them are the same genes that are affected by cocaine exposure. For example, variations in the genes encoding FosB or any of hundreds of other genes affected by cocaine could conceivably contribute to the genetic risk for addiction. It is easy to imagine, by way of illustration, that an individual with a gene that expresses FosB at high levels might be more prone to addiction such a person would be analogous to the experimental mice that are engineered to produce more FosB and are, consequently, more addiction prone. It is also possible that other genesgenes not affected by cocaine exposureare responsible. Work is now under way to examine these alternatives.
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The Effects Of Cocaine On The Body
Cocaine can have profound effects on your brain and chemical messaging system, but it can also have some significant effects on your body. Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant, meaning that it increases activity in the central nervous system. The stimulating qualities have intense psychological, mood-lifting effects, but they can also have some profound effects on some of the unconscious functions of your nervous system. Cocaine can cause physical symptoms like an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. It can also cause tremors, nausea, dilated pupils, and seizures.
Cocaine can also cause some long-term physical effects after chronic use. Snorting cocaine can lead to some specific effects on your nose, throat, and nasal passageways. Chronic snorting can cause nosebleeds, issues with swallowing, and hoarseness. It can also irritate the nasal septum, which can lead to infections, chronic inflammation, and chronic runny nose.
Effects Of Cocaine On The Immune System
Some studies suggest cocaine abuse can poorly impact the immune system.
- Cocaine can suppress or alter immune cells, lowering your ability to fight disease and infection.
- If you smoke crack cocaine, youre at increased risk for bronchitis and pneumonia.
- Cocaine users are at higher risk for infections like hepatitis and HIV. Unprotected sex, poor nutrition, and injecting cocaine contribute to this risk.
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How Cocaine Can Harm Your Eye Health
Long-term cocaine users can develop more serious eye health conditions like the ones listed below:5
The cornea is the clear protective layer at the front of the eye.
Long-term cocaine use increases a persons chance of getting crack eye syndrome. Its a collection of corneal conditions, ranging from mild punctate keratitis to total blindness.6,7
Keratitis is corneal inflammation. Punctate keratitis is a subtype where the upper corneal layer is inflamed.
The mechanism of how cocaine causes corneal damage is unclear, but its thought to be due to any of the following factors:
- Snorted cocaine or impurities in cocaine that cause surface damage7, 8
- Smoked cocaine that has direct toxic effects4
- Rubbing the eyes after touching cocaine9
- Microorganisms like Streptococcus mitis, Capnocytophaga, and Candida albicans9
The orbit is part of the skull that houses the eyeball, the muscles that move the eye, the tear gland, blood vessels, and nerves.
Snorting cocaine can severely damage the nasal lining. This can cause sinusitis and further lead to various orbital complications.10 Cocaine use can also cause fungal and bacterial infections, finding their way into the orbits.11
The retina is the thin lining at the back of the eye. The retina receives light and converts it to neural signals.
Here are the different retinal damages associated with cocaine use:
Other Eye Conditions
Some other ways cocaine can damage your eyes include:
Cocaine And Brain Aging
As a person grows older, their brain will naturally change and begin to lose gray matter. In a healthy brain, this is a decades-long process, and it does not appear until a person has reached older adulthood. Memory problems, changes in cognitive ability, and even dementia are linked to reduction of gray matter.
A recent study through the University of Cambridge examined the aging of the brain in people who abused cocaine and those who had no previous history of substance abuse. The group found that the average brain normally loses 1.69 milliliters of gray matter per year however, people who had abused cocaine in the past, or who were currently cocaine-dependent, doubled the rate of gray matter loss, for an average of 3.08 milliliters per year.
Another study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University, found that cocaine may cause brain cells to cannibalize themselves. The study describes cocaine triggering autophagy in neurons in mice, or the process of the cells eating themselves from the inside out. The cells threw out useful resources during metabolism, leading to a stress reaction of cannibalizing other internal cell structures. Mice whose mothers had been fed cocaine during pregnancy, but who were not cocaine-dependent themselves, also showed this phenomenon.
More about the Effects on the Brain or Body
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Help For Substance Use Disorder In Washington State
At Lakeside-Milam, we understand how quickly a cocaine addiction can develop. If you need help to overcome a substance use disorder, we are here for you every step of the way. Our qualified counselors offer the full continuum of care, and our outpatient addiction and mental health services are available all across the state of Washington.
To learn more about our cocaine addiction treatment program, contact our admissions office.
Recover From Cocaine Addiction
Take back your life from substance abuse. Footprints to Recovery offers evidence-based addiction treatment programs that address the underlying reasons behind substance use disorders. We teach you healthier ways to cope with triggers and lifes challenges. Youll recover alongside peers who understand what youre going through and behavioral health professionals who are experts in their fields. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help.
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