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Why don’t all drug users become drug addicts?

Cocaine addiction is one of the most difficult addictions to treat–there just aren’t a lot of effective treatment methods or medications available for cocaine addicts. Two groups of researchers recently published a report of their study on cocaine addiction, with an interesting discovery on the biology of why some people become addicted to the drug while others don’t.

The article contains a lot of technical information, but the bottom line is that some people’s brains are more “plastic” than others–they have a flexibility that allows them to adapt to the changes caused by chronic drug use. Chronic cocaine use causes a loss of brain plasticity in all users, but some are able to adapt and recover their plasticity. People who suffer from cocaine addiction aren’t able to do this, which causes their drug-seeking behavior to become compulsive and out of control.

There will always be people who say that cocaine is nonaddictive, and it can be tempting to believe them. However, research like this shows that drugs can affect people quite differently. Even if you know someone who has used cocaine without becoming addicted, that doesn’t mean that it is not an addictive drug. And if you have been addicted to cocaine in the past, you likely have an increased susceptibility to cocaine addiction that means you cannot simply use recreationally without becoming addicted.

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