As a result, Volkow coined the phrase “hijacking the brain” because of how cocaine (and all addictive drugs) fool the brain by producing reward for self-destructive behavior. In clinical settings, cocaine addicts can accurately describe the particular stimulus that “hijacks” their brain, which they experience as intense wanting, anticipatory pleasure, desire and motivation to use. When this occurs, relapse is usually just a matter of time. “I’m not addicted to cocaine, I only used it on pay days.” –Darien, 37, Former CPA
We have established what happens when addicted persons are triggered by external drug cues. But what about non-addicted people who have tried cocaine a few times, but have not crossed the line to addiction? The findings from Cox et al, have demonstrated that after initial doses of cocaine, non-addicted persons produce the same drug cue responses in the ventral striatum that occurs among addicted persons. This evidence demonstrates that initial, occasional cocaine use results in a Pavlovian response, in which preoccupation with cocaine-induced euphoria, a narrowing of interests, and increased susceptibility to addiction occur.
The infralimbic cortex and accumbens shell appear to be recruited by extinction learning because inactivation of these structures prior to extinction training did not alter cocaine seeking. Together, these findings suggest that a neuronal network involving the infralimbic cortex and accumbens shell is recruited by extinction training to suppress cocaine seeking…Interestingly, however, if prefrontal cortex is electrically stimulated during abstinence, cocaine seeking is reduced in the first extinction session (Levy et al., 2007), suggesting that electrical stimulation of prefrontal cortex may mimic extinction training and/or that extinction training enhances activity in prefrontal cortex.
Cocaine users are more likely than non-users to suffer from HIV, Hepatitis, sexually transmitted and other diseases according to a recent study by the McLean Hospital Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Centre in Belmont Massachusetts.
The study found that cocaine impairs the human body's immune defence system for at least four hours.
This weakened immune defence system makes it more likely that an infection like HIV or the common cold can take hold.
The study involved 30 participants with a history of cocaine use that had used cocaine at least once within the past month.
The research suggesting the compromised immune system for cocaine users could help to explain the known high incidence of infectious diseases amongst drug users.
(Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2003, pages 1188-1193)
This research confirms other scientific research that indicates that illicit drugs suppress the human immune system.
Past scientific research has disclosed that cannabis use also suppresses the human immune system making users more susceptible to infections (see our web site at www.daca.org.au).
As well, cocaine use can prove fatal.
Infections like HIV and Hepatitis have serious health problems so programs that maintain illicit drug use should be replaced by rehabilitation to a drug free condition.
The Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom have come up with a unique way of showing the health damage from the use of illicit drugs.
In a series of before and after photos of young women that used cocaine the severe aging is clear.
The damaged faces of the women are shown at the police web site and have been produced on posters, beer mats and nightclub flyers.
The shocking images showing the degenerative effects of drug use indicate that drug use can prematurely age young women in as little at 3 years of drug use.
One teenager looks 20 years older after using cocaine.
(Drug damage images are at www.met.police.uk/drugs/crackdown.htm)
All illicit drug users suffer physical harm and damaged looks are one of the health consequences.
However premature aging from using illicit drugs means rising health costs to the community as medical conditions normally associated with aging are brought forward to an earlier stage in life.
Cannabis is known to suppress the human immune system and to cause cancer so the health risks extend beyond aging.
By using our courts to divert illicit drug users into detoxification and rehabilitation we can help users to avoid these future health burdens and save costs to the community.
These premature aging images MUST be used by Australian governments as part of their drug prevention education campaigns to turn teenagers away from future drug use.
Drug smugglers arrested with less than 3 kilos of cocaine at Amsterdam airport will not be prosecuted under plans by the Dutch government.
About 150 cocaine smugglers at arrested at the airport every month.
There are a rising number of arrests at the airport due to an influx of drug smugglers and the goals and courts cannot cope.
Previously the government stopped prosecuting drug smugglers with one and a half kilos of cocaine and now they have doubled the limit.
(Source: Geraldine Coughlan BBC correspondent in the Hague)
The Dutch have strongly embraced harm minimisation in drug policies and the drug problems have got worse.
The government clearly cannot cope with the drug smugglers so they ease the prosecution laws to stop their gaols and courts being flooded.
Australia has adopted harm minimisation in our drug policy adopting Dutch drug policies like injecting rooms, syringe distribution and allowing illicit drug possession.
Australian governments must provide detoxification and rehabilitation to illicit drug users to get them drug free.
International criminals and terrorists control the illicit drug trade so harm minimisation benefits these by providing a market for drugs.