Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have identified mechanisms in the brain responsible for regulating cocaine-seeking behavior. This is a major cause for drug development that could greatly reduce the high relapse rate in cocaine addiction.

The research reveals that stimulation of certain brain receptors promotes inhibition of cocaine-associated memories, helping addicts to stop drug use. This inhibition is achieved through enhancing a process called “extinction learning,” in which cocaine-associated memories are replaced with associations that have no drug “reward.” This reduces drug-seeking behavior in rats. There are certain neurotransmitters that unable to reach the brain through the bloodstream, but useful to control addiction.

Therefore, researchers next targeted the some neurotransmitters which are smaller in size but works same. The authors conclude that due to this receptor stimulation simultaneously with exposure therapy could be an effective treatment for cocaine abuse, reducing craving and the potential for relapse.