A team of researchers led by the University of Adelaide and the University of Colorado have discovered a mechanism in the brain and immune system that makes cocaine be perceived as pleasurable.
The scientists found that an immune receptor in the brain is responsible for amplifying addiction to drugs such as cocaine. When this receptor is blocked, as happens when patients take drugs such as Naloxone, the individuals' pleasurable response is much less powerful. A weaker reward could help to relieve drug addiction, since there would be less of an incentive to abuse substances.
"Combined with our previous work, this suggests that the immune signaling may be a key mechanism underlying the rewarding and reinforcing effects of drugs such as opioids, cocaine, and potentially other abused substances, like methamphetamine and alcohol," said one of the lead researchers while explaining the results of the study.
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