April 23, 2008
Growing Brains More Easily Addicted To Cocaine?

The greater youthful capacity to learn might make youths more prone to cocaine addiction?

WASHINGTON — New drug research suggests that teens may get addicted and relapse more easily than adults because developing brains are more powerfully motivated by drug-related cues. This conclusion has been reached by researchers who found that adolescent rats given cocaine – a powerfully addicting stimulant – were more likely than adults to prefer the place where they got it. That learned association endured: Even after experimenters extinguished the drug-linked preference, a small reinstating dose of cocaine appeared to rekindle that preference – but only in the adolescent rats.

The research, performed at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School’s largest psychiatric facility, was reported in the April issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American Psychological Association.

Evidence that younger brains get stuck on drug-related stimuli reinforces real-world data. Epidemiological studies confirm that of people in various age groups who experiment with drugs, teens are by far the most likely to become addicted. Thus, the new findings may be useful in developing new treatments for youthful addiction.

Future treatments that rejuvenate the brain might make people more prone to drug addiction.

Picture a recreational drug that temporarily suppresses your ability to learn as a way to protect against the risk of learning to like the drug. Could this approach reduce the risk of drug addiction?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 April 23 10:35 PM  Brain Addiction

Xenophon Hendrix said at April 24, 2008 4:23 PM:

Marijuana supposedly temporarily reduces one's ability to learn, and we don't hear much about marijuana addicts.

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