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Breaking the cycle of escape

Drug use has long been linked with other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.  Individuals who misuse illicit drugs can find themselves very low in mood, very nervous about everyday tasks, and very unmotivated to engage in mundane tasks.  Those who misuse drugs are often looking for escape or enjoyment, and while they may get this whilst using the drug, when it has left their system it can leave them feeling very low.  Unfortunately this then leads individuals to continue to use the drugs to try and maintain these pleasurable effects and reduce the negative ones, and this cycle can be very hard to break, even for individuals who check themselves into drug rehab centers.

Scientists have long been seeking to better understand the connection between drugs and mood, and while it is clear that when people are not using drug they can feel very low in mood, it has been difficult for researchers to get a grasp on the actual process that leads to this, and thus has meant that interventions have been unable to rectify the problem.

However recent studies reveal that with cocaine, the scientific world may have a more clear picture about the brain processes.  It has been found that in cocaine users there is a particular cellular mechanism that occurs in the brain when an individual uses the drug (Science Daily, 2012).  When an individual uses the drug, the brain attempts to slow down the impact of the drug, and tries to put the 'brakes on' to prevent the high mood caused by cocaine.  But even when an individual is not using the drug, it seems that the brakes remain on, and continue to slow the brain down even when not necessary, leading to low mood and poor levels of motivation. 

This understanding of how the brain works in response to cocaine could be essential in producing further treatment options for individuals addicted to the drug, and could also help develop preventative measures as well.  The more we know about how drugs work, the better the chances we have of stopping them taking such a strong hold. 


Science Daily.  (2012).  Mechanism Related to Negative Emotions of Cocaine Withdrawal Discovered: Emotional 'Brakes' Stay On After Cocaine Wears Off.  Sourced from:

Published by on 21/09/2020.

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