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Cocaine Abuse (cont.)

Cocaine Abuse Causes

Although there is no one single cause of cocaine addition, addictive disease is generally believed to be the result of a combination of genetic background and environmental risk factors. Those from high-risk family environments are particularly susceptible to the development of addictive disease, and they need to be aware of this information during their preadolescent period. However, the presence of an addict in the family does not mean that a person can be certain to become an addict.

  • Researchers supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse have identified a process in the brain that may help explain addiction to cocaine and other drugs of abuse. Their research indicates that repeated exposure to cocaine causes a change in genes that leads to altered levels of a specific brain protein. This protein regulates the action of a normally occurring brain chemical called dopamine. It is a chemical messenger in the brain associated with the cocaine's pleasurable "rush," the mechanism of addiction. Certainly, more research is needed to unlock the mysteries of addiction, but this information adds one more link in explaining how the brain adapts in the addiction process.

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Toxicity, Cocaine »

Cocaine is derived from Erythroxylon coca, a shrub endemic to the Andes, Mexico, West Indies, and Indonesia.

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