Cocaine Use Ages The Brain Faster
According to a study led by researchers at the University of Cambridge, chronic cocaine consumers present a premature aging of the brain. In other words, chronic cocaine users lose a greater volume of gray matter over time. The central nervous system effects of cocaine are well-known. It is already known that chronic users of cocaine present memory loss, concentration problems and attention deficit disorder. The immediate effect of cocaine is to stimulate the brain. Cocaine interferes with the metabolism of dopamine, binds to dopamine transporter blocking its reuptake. Thus dopamine accumulates in the synaptic gap.
Researchers found that chronic cocaine users lose an average of 3.08 ml brain volume per year, that is double of their nonconsumer peers. In other words, their brain ages faster. The study was conducted on 120 individuals, 60 were consumers and 60 were nonconsumers. Individuals selected had similar age, gender and IQ. Another observation made by researchers was that cerebral atrophy related to cocaine users is predominantly present in the prefrontal cortex and temporal regions, regions with a role in decision-making, attention and memory. It should be noted that there is an inevitable cognitive decline that occurs with age, approximately after 45 years in normal individuals. Moreover, there are studies that have shown that in individuals both physically and mentally active, cognitive decline occurs lately.
Studies on psychological changes in cocaine consumer individuals have been also conducted previously. It was found that such changes that occur in cocaine consumers, such as cerebral atrophy, immunodeficiency, are generally associated with age in normal individuals. However, the study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge, is the first of its kind that proves gray matter volume loss in cocaine-dependent individuals. Dr Karen Ersche, Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience of the Institute (BCNI) at the University of Cambridge, said that cocaine users should be warned about the devastating effects of drug on the brain: “Young people taking cocaine today need to be educated about the long-term risk of aging prematurely. “
Cocaine is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system. It has several effects, including inhibition of appetite, local anesthesia etc. Cocaine increases motor activity and causes a state of euphoria. It can also increase performance in athletes. On the other hand, the drug has other effects such as anxiety, paranoia, tremors, convulsions. Long-term cocaine effects are serious and severe. In high doses, cocaine can cause tachyarrhythmias and hypertension. In other words, can lead to death by heart attack or stroke.