Using Cocaine Only One Time Can Alter Your Brain Structure Forever, According to Researchers

By November 27, 2017 Health

Drugs have had a detrimental effect on the lives of millions. A growing amount of people are taking up drug use and we are seeing a variety of horrific effects as a result!

Drugs are a no-go if you want to live a healthy and successful life. Drug use not only deteriorates your physical body, but it destroys the soul. You lose all sense of self and awareness and become interested in just one thing – drugs. Cocaine is one of the most popular street drugs, and one of the most lethal. New research shows that snorting cocaine just once can completely change your brain forever.

The University of East Anglia led a study that discovered a single dose of cocaine can alter a molecular mechanism in the brain’s reward center. In the study, the researchers dosed mice with cocaine and studied the frontal lobe. They found that when cocaine enters the body it alters decision making and memory after just one use. The researchers discovered that it produces the growth of new dendritic spines, which wire the brain to seek more cocaine. This makes it almost inevitable for a person to want more after trying it for the first time.

“We’ve long known that when you become a repeated drug user, the search for more drugs tends to dominate your attention and decision-making,” Linda Wilbrecht, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and the lead author of the study, explained to The Huffington Post. “But it’s quite shocking that these neurological changes happened after just one use.”

“The ones that developed the biggest change in preference for the cocaine side were also the ones that grew the most spines,” Wilbrecht told the LA Times.

“We have limited real estate in the brain, and this shows how drugs dominate what its users think about,” she told HuffPost. “Drug exposure fuels drug use, potentially at the expense of other priorities.”

The mice were exposed to two different environments before they were dosed with cocaine. Each of the environments had a specific scent and design, identifying the mice preference. After being introduced to cocaine the mice were placed in the least desired chamber. This caused the mice to overwhelmingly choose the least preferred environment in hopes of receiving cocaine.

“The frontal cortex regulates decision-making and, as we grow up, we make decisions in an increasingly habitual manner,” she said. “But the brain can rewire, and it is rewired by lots of experiences. So even though it was so much more rewired by the exposure to cocaine than it usually is, it can return to normal. I see this as evidence that recovery is possible.”

 

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