Print

Epigenetics not only may create transmissible memories to biological offspring but also can alter the way the genes themselves are expressed. NIDA Notes recently reported on studies by Dr. Fair M. Vassoler and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Ghazaleh Sadri-Vakili at Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers found that male rats’ cocaine exposure affects their offspring’s drug responses. “The 'sires’ cocaine exposure induced epigenetic alterations to one or more of their genes, and the sires transmitted the alterations to their offspring via their sperm. Epigenetic alterations change the expression of a gene without changing the underlying DNA sequence. The gene produces the same protein as it did before alteration, but in greater or lesser quantities than before.” (http://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2013/08/male-rats-cocaine-exposure-affects-their-offsprings-drug-responses?utm_source=Updates&utm_medium=ConstantContact&utm_content=08.28.2013&utm_campaign=NIDANotes)

Specific substances (e.g., caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, opiates) definitely impact the brain and brain function. (Greenfield, Susan, Con. Ed. Brain Power. p 90-94. Great Britain: Element Books Limited, 1999.)

Cocaine constricts cerebral blood vessels diminishing the blood supply of critical oxygen and nutrients and thereby injuring brain cells. Short-term and long-terms changes in brain cell function have been reported even months after cocaine addicts become drug-free. (Glenmullen, Joseph, MD. Prozac Backlash. p 100-101. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

Study: In a mouse brain a single exposure to cocaine can establish long-term potentiation, a key brain mechanism for registering learning and remembering. (Amphetamines, morphine, nicotine, and alcohol trigger similar changes; non-addictive medications do not.) Altered cellular activity may be the first step toward cocaine addiction. (Zickler, Patrick. Addictive Drugs and Stress. p 1, 6-7. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA NOTES, Vol. 18, No. 5, Dec 2003. http://www.drugabuse.gov/)

Study: Cocaine interferes with the transfer of nutrients and can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the fetus (e.g., can negatively impact growth of the body and the brain). (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. p 28-29. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

Study: Cocaine use can increase the abuser’s risk of illnesses/infections due to suppression of the immune system (e.g., interleukin-6). (Zickler, Patrick. NIDA NOTES. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, p 5. National Institutes of Health, Volume 18, Number 6, Feb 2004.)

Cocaine was part of the original formula for coca cola. (Brynie, Faith Hickman. 101Questions Your Brain has Asked About Itself but Couldn’t Answer Until Now. p 69-79. CT: Millbrook Press, 1998.)

First use of cocaine may increase rush of pleasure 500 times that of the brain’s normal experience of dopamine. Second use the pleasure may drop to 200 times. Third use the brain may release only 100 times the amount of dopamine in response. The promise of pleasure entices but the pleasure is less each time the drug is used. (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning. p 265. CA:The Brain Store, 1995, 2000.)

Studies of consequences of chronic cocaine abuse: impaired attention, learning, memory, reaction time, and cognitive flexibility. The degree of cognitive deficits is related to treatment drop-out rate (e.g., the more impaired the more likely to stop treatment). (Mann, Arnold. Cocaine Abusers’ cognitive Deficits Compromise Treatment Outcomes. . p 4-6. MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA NOTES, Vol 19, No 1, April, 2004.)

Cocaine impacts the human brain in several ways, one of which involves the inhibition of dopamine reuptake. Interference with dopamine reuptake explains cocaine's addictive properties, as dopamine is the critical neurotransmitter for reward. (Heikkila, R E; et al. Motor activity and rotational behavior after analogs of cocaine: correlation with dopamine uptake blockade. Commun Psychopharmacol 3 (5): 285–90. 1979.)

Dopamine is the critical neurotransmitter for reward. Cocaine administration increases metabolism in the substantia nigra (SN), which can explain the altered motor function seen in cocaine-using subjects. However, cocaine is even more active in the dopaminergic neurons of the ventral tegmental area (VTA) than the substantia nigra. (Joan M. Lakoski, Joan M., et al. Cocaine. Telford Press, 1991.)

Dr. Daniel Amen has recommended to parents that children spend no more than 30 minutes a day playing video games. This is because (according to brain imaging studeis), video games impact the same area of the brain as cocaine and methamphetamine. When you play video games your brain really likes it because the process increases the amount of dopamine being released in the brain. "When you try to take those games away from them (the kids), they get really upset. In fact, some even go through withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t allowed to play.) According to Dr. Amen, this is because playing video games release much dopamine that there isn’t enough of the chemical available for the little things in life. Other activities and relationships that would normally make your children happy leave them feeling nothing at all. (Amen, Daniel, MD) (http://www.amenclinics.com/blog/3500/how-video-games-are-like-cocaine/)