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Concentration of iron in brain directly linked with duration of cocaine use

Concentration of iron in brain directly linked with duration of cocaine use

As with all drugs, an addiction to cocaine negatively affects a user psychologically, socially and emotionally. With cocaine, the downslide happens much faster and harder compared to other drugs. Since cocaine triggers a relatively short-term high, it leaves users craving for more. The tolerance for the illicit drug also develops very quickly that leads to dependence and eventually addiction.

Cocaine is a potent stimulant that has been known to be closely related to cardiac arrest. It is an alarming fact that no one can predict when a cocaine user can suffer a heart attack. It can happen even during the first-time use. Heart attacks in young patients without a history of heart disease are so frequent due to cocaine use that emergency room (ER) doctors have been taught to regard it as one of the first suspect in diagnoses. A 2016 report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) features cocaine consistently at either second or third spot as the cause of overdose deaths between 2010 and 2014.

Besides being highly addictive and one of the popular illicit drugs among the people of the Western world, there is no specific treatment for cocaine addiction. In the absence of a specific treatment, medical practitioners usually use counseling and cognitive therapies for addressing the challenges related to this disorder. The need of the hour is to translate the neurobiology of addiction into effective treatments.

Use of cocaine builds up iron deposits in the brain

Despite significant advances made in the understanding of the long-term changes in the brain structure due to cocaine addiction, medical practitioners are yet to figure out a specific medical treatment other than through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to cure cocaine addiction. Therefore, a study conducted by a team of researchers from the Cambridge University by examining the brain tissue of cocaine users raises hopes for finding such a cure. The original study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

The study entailed 44 people addicted to cocaine and 44 healthy control volunteers. The researchers, led by Dr Karen Ersche from the Department of Psychiatry, observed the presence of excessive amounts of iron in the globus pallidus region of the brain of people addicted to cocaine compared to control group volunteers. The original function of this part of the brain is to act as a ‘brake’ for any type of inhibiting behavior.

Interestingly, the concentration of iron deposits was directly dependent on the duration of cocaine use. Consequently, the longer the period of use, greater was the concentration of iron deposits. Concurrently, the deposition of iron in the brain was accompanied by mild iron deficiency in the other parts of the body This implied that the use of cocaine altered patterns of iron concentration by disrupting iron regulation in the cocaine users. Therefore, cocaine users are likely to witness significant consequences.

In general, iron is very strictly regulated by the body due to its critical role in the production of red blood cells (RBCs). In addition, these RBCs play a pivotal role in storing and carrying oxygen in the blood. A deficiency of iron leads to the deprivation of oxygen-rich blood to the tissues and organs, which would lead to a host of other health problems.

The excessive iron deposits in the brain is associated with cell death that is frequently seen in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s diseases. By highlighting the above phenomenon, these researchers tried to understand the way cocaine interacts with iron regulation in the human body. Apparently, cocaine disrupts iron regulation by reducing the absorption of iron from food and increasing the permeability of the brain-blood barrier that accelerates iron deposition in the brain.

Recovery from cocaine addiction

This discovery lays the path for future work in finding out methods to reverse or lower the iron accumulation in the brain so that directly or indirectly, it eventually helps people to recover from cocaine addiction. The amount of iron deposits in the brain could also help in assessing the period of cocaine addiction in a patient and could lead to unearthing an association between cocaine abuse and other brain disorders, or assist doctors in developing new methods that can help people in heal from the brunt of long-term cocaine addiction.

To achieve more rapid and effective treatment for drug abuse, you can seek help from the Texas Drug Addiction Treatment to know about the best drug addiction treatment centers in Texas. You can call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855- 980-5757 or chat online to get further information about our drug rehabilitation centers in Texas.

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