Substance abuse patients who have been battling cocaine addiction are in for some good news. Researchers from the UC Irvine Pharmacological Department have recently discovered that a hunger-regulating hormone can actually minimize cocaine cravings among addicts. This discovery can lead to the development of a successful drug that can inhibit cocaine addiction. The studies were led by researchers Olivier Civelli and Shinjae Chung. The aim of their study was to find out the relationship between dopamine and the melanin-concentrating hormone or MCH. These two pleasure center hormones are actually responsible for a person’s addiction to cocaine.
For those who are not familiar with dopamine, it is actually a neurotransmitter that is necessary so the central nervous system can function properly. It is also the hormone which is responsible for pleasure. Yes, when you have sex, eat a delicious cheeseburger or a tub of ice cream or take drugs, dopamine is released in your brain. Studies have shown that habitual drug users have significantly higher levels of dopamine in their nucleus accumbens. With the recent studies, the interaction between MCH and dopamine are gradually being discovered. Researchers believe that the relationship between the two plays a crucial role in addiction.
Tested on mice
Just like most scientific tests, the research was done using mice. Scientists took several mice and conditioned them in such a way that they soon developed cocaine cravings. When tested, scientists found that these mice possessed high levels of MCH and dopamine. Finally, the scientists administered compounds that can block the MCH proteins, and the cravings were then eliminated. Such a discovery can be extremely crucial to drug addiction rehab centers like Miramar at Laguna Beach. The researches also discovered that mice that are lacking in receptors necessary for the absorption of MCH tend to be less prone to cocaine addiction.
A cure for the future
Olivier Civelli is hopeful that these new studies can lead to the development of a new drug that can help cure addiction to substances and can be used in drug addiction rehab centers all across the country. Cocaine addicts are not the only ones that this potential cure can benefit. Those who are addicted to amphetamines and tobacco can also be cured by the drug. Researchers also believe that lowering the level of the MCH in the body can also help treat obesity. This is because minimizing MCH also minimizes the pleasure that individuals get from eating.