Why Does Cocaine Addiction Escalate?

People who use cocaine do not generally begin this habit to become addicted. They believe they can limit their consumption and maintain self-control. However, despite these intentions, cocaine abuse tends to create an addiction, and there are a number of biological reasons for this progression.

How Cocaine Changes the Brain

    Cocaine addiction escalates because it changes the brain in the following ways:

  • The amount of gray matter in the brain’s orbitofrontal cortex is reduced in people with cocaine addiction. This area of the brain is associated with decision-making and pursuing goals. The longer that people use cocaine, the less able they become to make rational decisions and follow through on objectives like reducing drug consumption.
  • Cocaine also affects the insula, the part of the brain associated with learning and processing feedback. When the insula is damaged, people may have a harder time connecting the negative consequences of cocaine abuse to the act of using it.
  • People addicted to cocaine have reduced gray matter in the anterior cingulate. This part of the brain is associated with attention and emotional processing. When people have a difficult time processing their emotions, they may be more likely to escape them by using cocaine.
  • The caudate nucleus is a section of the brain associated with reward processing. It is enlarged in people suffering from cocaine addiction.
  • Cocaine decreases the signaling of a protein known as Rac1, which changes the brain in a number of ways. It increases the number of spines protruding from neurons in the brain’s reward center and produces greater sensitivity to the rewarding aspects of the drug.
  • Adolescents who take cocaine have altered brain development, with neurons and synaptic connections changing shape in an attempt to protect the brain’s neurocircuitry.
  • Cocaine binds to transporters that remove an excess of dopamine and other neurotransmitters from synaptic gaps between nerve cells. This prevents them from being reabsorbed and increases their concentration in the brain. The body senses an imbalance and adapts by changing the amount of receptor cells. Because of these adaptations, neurotransmitter levels are only normal when the drug is present. When it is not, users experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

For these reasons, cocaine addiction is quite dangerous and requires professional treatment to overcome.

Help Ending Cocaine Addiction

If you are trapped in cocaine addiction, you don’t have to stay there. Freedom is possible if you call our toll-free helpline and let our counselors discuss treatment options. They can even check your insurance coverage at no cost or obligation. We are available 24 hours a day, so there is never a wrong time to begin the process of recovery. Call now and begin the journey.

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