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The Addiction from Cocaine Main Aspects Essay

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Updated: Dec 13th, 2021

Frequent and systematic use of drugs causes drug addiction. This kind of addiction is more dangerous than any other because it is characterized by high possibility of relapse and destruction of the central nervous system. The consequences of the cocaine use mimic the effect of the heroine use, though the addiction from these two drugs differs in consequences. The disease of addiction from cocaine develops because the conscious brain area is affected; this area belongs to the limbic system that operates human memory and emotions (Starr and McMillan 255). The use of crack/cocaine or any other psychoactive substances affects brain in the first place. The matter is that, unlike the cases with alcohol addiction, most of the physical harm done by such drugs as cocaine is connected with the affection of the brain. This is why addiction is perceived as neurobiological disease that should be treated only under the specialists’ observation. The impact of the cocaine on the human brain can be explained by the chemical dopamine and its variations in the brain of the drug addict, as well as by three main areas of the cycle of addiction.

Firstly, it is worth mentioning that concentration of the dopamine in the human brain is responsible for the state of the addict at the moment of drug-taking. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters present in the brain; it “plays a central role within the reward system” (Eysenck 57). Dopamine system is much responsible for the habit-forming effects of drugs because most of them (including cocaine) increase dopamine activity raising its concentration in the limbic regions of the brain. Dopamine is also largely responsible for the drug reinforcement (the necessity to take larger amount of a particular drug to achieve the desired state), though its contribution into addiction has not yet been proved. Its involvement in addiction is, however, evident; dopamine causes certain structural changes in the brain decreasing the volume of the frontal lobe. This largely affects the self-direction and willpower of the drug addict. As a result, a drug addict almost entirely loses inhibitory controls and becomes incapable of thinking consciously or making judgments or decisions.

What else should be mentioned is that there exist three main stages of the cycle of addiction; each of them reflects the influence produced on the human brain by the consumption of such drugs as cocaine. The first stage is drug intoxication. At this stage, the concentration of dopamine in the frontal and limbic areas of the brain gets increased. The second stage is drug craving; in the case of cocaine addiction, cravings for the drug are the most intense. This is explained by the fact that protein stops being produced in the brain of the cocaine-addicted until they take this drug several times. When they take the drug and the buildup starts, drug craving takes place. This stage is characterized by the addict’s response to different environmental and social cues (memories that a person has about the drug experience activate certain areas in the brain and cause drug craving). For instance, the addict’s heart race may increase even when he/she sees something reminding of the drug use.

The final stage of the addiction is drug withdrawal that is often considered as the main factor of drug dependence. During the drug withdrawal, the behavioral circuits get disrupted, which results in irritation and dysphoria. However, it is not only dysphoria that expects the addicted during the drug withdrawal. In the case of cocaine withdrawal, the addicted may experience “anhedonia, anergia, anxiety, and intense cocaine craving. Symptoms occurring during the withdrawal phase, particularly anhedonia and craving, may be important antecedents to recurring cocaine use” (Karch 471). The recurring use of the drug takes place because of certain processes in the frontal cortical circuitry and decreasing availability of the dopamine receptor; the pathway of the latter leads to reward circuits in the brain, which increases the risk of addictive behavior. Moreover, there is some correlation between the measures of dopamine receptors and the “measures of metabolic activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, cingulated gyrus and prefrontal cortex” (Herman and Stimmel 60). Metabolism in these parts of the human brain is much slower during drug withdrawal. Nevertheless, neither decreased metabolism nor decreased dopamine receptor availability is responsible for the cocaine craving that the addicted may experience during the drug withdrawal.

In conclusion, the use of cocaine and the like psychoactive substances affects the human central nervous system and, owing to certain processes in the brain, leads to the loss of the person’s control over emotions, willpower, and behavior. The impact produced by cocaine use on the human brain can be explained by the fluctuation of the dopamine concentration in it. Three stages of the cycle of addiction, drug intoxication, drug craving, and drug withdrawal, also involve numerous processes in the human brain, such as the production of protein, decreasing availability of the dopamine receptor, the formation of rewards circuits, etc, that also perfectly illustrate what takes place in the brain of a person who takes cocaine.

Works Cited

Eysenck, Michael W. Psychology: An International Perspective. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2004.

Herman, Joseph and Stimmel, Barry. The Neurobiology of Cocaine Addiction: from Bench to Bedside. London and New York: Routledge, 1997.

Karch, Steven B. Drug Abuse Handbook. London: CRC Press, 1998.

Starr, Cecie and McMillan, Beverly. Human Biology. London: Cengage Learning, 2008.

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