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Cocaine Addiction and the Brain

September 25th, 2009 · No Comments

Approximately 2 million Americans currently use cocaine because of the temporary euphoria effect it provides. Unfortunately this has contributed to making it one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs in the country. Cocaine addiction is known to cause severe biological and behavioral problems that may or may NOT be changed!

Researchers at the University of Missouri in the Dept of Electrical and Computer Engineering are utilizing computational models to study how the brain’s chemicals and the connections between neurons react to cocaine addiction. The findings could have an effect on future drug treatment.

Cocaine addicts get such a strong connection in the brain from the decision-making center to the pleasure center that it simply makes the addict keep seeking the use of cocaine.

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Tags: Street Drugs

Lack of Dopamine Leads to Risk Taking

January 15th, 2009 · No Comments

Recent research by David Zald at Vanderbilt and published by the Journal of Neuroscience shows that people that have less of a particular type of dopamine receptor may lead them to taking more risks including the use of drugs.

Dopamine has long been known to play an important role in how we experience rewards from a variety of natural sources, including food and sex, as well as from drugs such as cocaine and amphetamine. Previous research has shown that individuals differ in both their number of dopamine receptors and the amount of dopamine they produce, and that these differences may play a critical role in addiction. Zald and his colleagues set out to explore the connection between dopamine receptors and the novelty-seeking personality trait.

“We’ve found that the density of these dopamine autoreceptors is inversely related to an individual’s interest in and desire for novel experiences,” stated David Zald. “The fewer available dopamine autoreceptors an individual has, the less they are able to regulate how much dopamine is released when these cells are engaged. Because of this, novelty and other potentially rewarding experiences that normally induce dopamine release will produce greater dopamine release in these individuals.”

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Tags: News - Addiction and Alternative Health

Drug Addiction in Mexico Increases Dramatically

July 30th, 2008 · No Comments

According to a recent report in USA Today and information from the Mexican Health Ministry, new patients at drug treatment centers quadrupled since 2000.

The new border fence and intensified patrols by both Mexican and U.S. federal agents have made it harder for Mexican cartels to get street drugs into the USA.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón warned last month that cartels are no longer just trying to get drugs to the USA, but generate consumers “here in Mexico who will buy them, and buy them for the rest of their lives.”

“We used to be mainly a country of transit for drugs. Now we’ve become a consumer,” says Ricardo Sánchez, director of research for the health ministry’s rehab centers.

Prices of drugs have increased in the USA but have decreased in Mexico making it more available.

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Tags: Street Drugs

Cocaine and Heart Attacks

March 31st, 2008 · No Comments

cocaineCocaine-related emergency department visits increased by 47 percent from 1999 to 2002.

According to a recent announcement from the American Heart Association, when treating a patient with chest pain who has no obvious risks of heart disease, ER doctors should ask if the patient has used the street drug cocaine.

Most cocaine-associated chest pain is not a heart attack. Thus, it is recommended that these patients be monitored in an observation unit for 9 to 12 hours.

Studies indicate that chest pain related to cocaine use tends to show up within three hours of using the drug. But the chemical remnants of cocaine remain in the system for at least 18 hours and can continue to cause problems.

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Tags: Street Drugs

ADHD and Street Drugs

August 7th, 2007 · No Comments

Researchers have generally known that people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are more likely than others to smoke cigarettes and abuse alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and other street drugs.

In a recent study, a team led by Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, documented decreased dopamine activity in the brains of a group of adults with ADHD. Dopamine is associated with feeling good.

The researchers compared brain scans on 19 adults with ADHD — average age 32 — who had never received medication for the condition to brain scans of 24 healthy adults of a similar age without ADHD.

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Tags: Drugs and Brain Disorders · Street Drugs

Drugs, Alcohol and ADD

July 15th, 2007 · No Comments

Drug and alcohol abuse are very common among teenagers and adults with untreated ADD Attention Deficit Disorder. One study by psychiatrist Joseph Biederman and his colleagues at Harvard University indicated that 52 percent of untreated ADD adults abuse drugs or alcohol.

The drugs that they choose to abuse are alcohol and marijuana to settle the internal restlessness they feel, and cocaine and methaphetamines to feel more energetic and focused. Nicotine use (cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco) is much more common in people with ADD, as is the intake of large amounts of caffeine. Nicotine and caffeine are mild stimulants.

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Tags: Alcohol Addiction · Drugs and Brain Disorders · Marijuana Addiction

Amino Acid Therapy – What is it?

May 23rd, 2007 · No Comments

Neurotransmitter Restoration (NTR) is the restoration and re-balancing of normal neurotransmission in the brain through IV amino acids and is one way to overcome a drug addiction. Thousands of people have successfully used this program to beat their addiction.

Drugs, whether prescription drugs (pain pills, antidepressants, stimulants, or benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Valium, Xanax, or Klonopin), alcohol, tobacco, or street drugs (methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy, LSD, PCP and others) have something in common: they all overstimulate certain neurotransmitter receptors (nerves) in the brain. This is how they bring about their effects, but it is also how they cause lasting damage that leads to deeper addiction and the inability to handle the stresses of normal life.

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Tags: Drug Addiction Alternative Treatment

Cocain and Crack

May 6th, 2007 · No Comments

Pure cocaine was first used in the 1880s in eye, nose, and throat surgeries as an anesthetic and for its ability to constrict blood vessels and limit bleeding. However, many of its therapeutic applications are now obsolete because of the development of safer drugs.

Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant, which is indigenous to the Andean highlands of South America. Much of the cocaine available in the United States is transported from South American nations, particularly Colombia, through the Mexico-Central America Corridor.

Cocaine was first Federally-regulated in December 1914 with the passage of the Harrison Act. This Act banned non-medical use of cocaine; prohibited its importation; imposed the same criminal penalties for cocaine users as for opium, morphine, and heroin users; and required a strict accounting of medical prescriptions for it. As a result of the Harrison Act and the emergence of cheaper, legal substances such as amphetamines, cocaine became less used in the U.S. However, use began to rise again in the 1960s, prompting Congress to classify it as a Schedule II substance in 1970.

Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse, a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States with severe restrictions, and may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Cocaine can currently be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as a local anesthetic for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries.

There are basically two chemical forms of cocaine: the hydrochloride salt and the freebase. The hydrochloride salt, or powdered form of cocaine, dissolves in water and, when abused, can be taken intravenously (by vein) or intranasally (in the nose). Freebase refers to a compound that has not been neutralized by an acid to make the hydrochloride salt. The freebase form of cocaine is smokable.

Cocaine is generally sold on the street as a fine, white, crystalline powder, known as coke, C, snow, flake, or blow. It has been reported that it is common for dealers to dilute the powder with chalk, laundry detergent, baby powder and rat poison! Can you imagine anyone trying street drugs with this possibility?

Crack

Crack is the street name given to a freebase form of cocaine that has been processed from the powdered cocaine hydrochloride form to a smokable substance. The term “crack” comes from the crackling sound made when it is heated.

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Tags: Street Drugs

What Are Some Effects of Specific Abused Substances?

May 1st, 2007 · No Comments

Nicotine is an addictive stimulant found in cigarettes and other forms of tobacco. Tobacco smoke increases a user’s risk of cancer, emphysema, bronchial disorders, and cardiovascular disease. The mortality rate associated with tobacco addiction is staggering. Tobacco use killed approximately 100 million people during the 20th century and, if current smoking trends continue, the cumulative death toll for this century has been projected to reach 1 billion.

Marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit substance. This drug impairs short-term memory and learning, the ability to focus attention, and coordination. Marijuana also increases heart rate, can harm the lungs, and can cause psychosis in those at risk.

Alcohol consumption can damage the brain and most body organs. Areas of the brain that are especially vulnerable to alcohol-related damage are the cerebral cortex (largely responsible for our higher brain functions, including problem solving and decision making), the hippocampus (important for memory and learning), and the cerebellum (important for movement coordination).

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Tags: Drug Abuse

How Do Drugs Work in The Brain?

April 26th, 2007 · No Comments

Drugs are chemicals. They work in the brain by tapping into the brain’s communication system and interfering with the way nerve cells normally send, receive, and process information. Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter. This similarity in structure “fools” receptors and allows the drugs to lock onto and activate the nerve cells. Although these street drugs mimic brain chemicals, they don’t activate nerve cells in the same way as a natural neurotransmitter, and they lead to abnormal messages being transmitted through the network.

Other drugs, such as amphetamine or cocaine, can cause the nerve cells to release abnormally large amounts of natural neurotransmitters or prevent the normal recycling of these brain chemicals. This disruption produces a greatly amplified message, ultimately disrupting communication channels. The difference in effect can be described as the difference between someone whispering into your ear and someone shouting into a microphone.

How do drugs work in the brain to produce pleasure?

All drugs of abuse directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. The over stimulation of this system, which rewards our natural behaviors, produces the euphoric effects sought by people who abuse drugs and teaches them to repeat the behavior.

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Tags: Drugs and Brain Disorders · Street Drugs