Cocaine has effects on the brain from the first dose

Brain scans show a modification of neural wiring from the first dose of cocaine. Today it is the most used drug in France, behind cannabis.

The effects of long-term cocaine use have already been demonstrated. But an American study published in Nature Neuroscience, August 25, is concerned with the first dose. And the results are not optimistic.

Brain scans performed on mice who had been given cocaine show a modification of neural circuits from the first use. New dendritic spines, structures that allow the wiring between neurons, have pushed very quickly in the frontal lobe. This brain area is involved in memory and decision making.

The mouse behavior, too, changed. Before giving them cocaine, researchers had spotted their favorite cage. The mice were allowed to choose between the two models in terms of their odor and their configuration.

The second most used drug after cannabis

After taking cocaine, the animals tended to return to the cage they had not chosen initially, knowing that they had more chance of finding drugs. They became so addicted very quickly. In imaging, these mice then were those that presented the most dendritic spines.

"The most shocking is that these neurological changes occur after a single dose," observes Linda Wilbrecht, lead author of the study cited by the US Huffington Post. It believes that these results are transferable to humans but nevertheless remains optimistic. Indeed, the brain has the ability to change its wiring throughout life. "A return to normal is possible," she notes.

A rising prices

Cocaine is, in France, the second most used drug after cannabis. According to the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction, the number of experimenters among 11-75 years is about 1.5 million people. The number of users during the year would be around 400 000 people. Contrary to popular belief, all social classes are concerned. The experimental rate is higher among traders and craftsmen-workers than among managers. The unemployed are those who allow themselves most easily tempted by cocaine, with a testing rate of 7.6%.

After a period of stability, the price per gram is increased again. It was around 65-70 euros in 2012. In the last issue of its journal Trends published on July 25, OFDT notes a deterioration in the image of cocaine among consumers but "it has more to low product quality circulating that awareness of the negative consequences of the use. " The Nature study will she help?