Nicotine sensitizes the mouse brain to the addictive effects of cocaine, according to recent NIDA-supported research. The results accord with the hypothesis that a person’s initial use of an addictive substance physiologically sensitizes his or her brain to the rewarding and addictive effects of other substances. If the findings carry over to people, then preventing youths from smoking might reduce their vulnerability to cocaine abuse and addiction, and cocaine-dependent individuals might ease their path to recovery by quitting smoking.
Patients who received transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) were more likely to abstain from cocaine than patients who received medications for symptoms associated with abstinence. Researchers concluded that TMS appears to be safe and its efficacy as a treatment for cocaine addiction deserves to be evaluated in a larger clinical trial.