Recreational Cocaine Use Activates Addiction Related Brain Mechanisms Sooner Than Previously Realized Interview with:

Marco Leyton, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Psychiatry McGill University

Dr. Marco Leyton

Marco Leyton, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychiatry
McGill University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Drug-related cues are potent triggers for eliciting conscious and unconscious desire for the drug. In people with severe substance use disorders, these cues also activate dopamine release in the dorsal striatum, a brain region thought to be involved in hard-to-break habits and compulsions.

In the present study we found evidence that drug cues also activate this same dopamine response in non-dependent ‘recreational’ cocaine users. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Recreational cocaine users might be closer to developing a drug use problem than previously realized. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Early intervention strategies have shown efficacy for delaying and reducing the use of other drugs, such as alcohol and cannabis. The present study underscores the potential importance of applying these same strategies to stimulant drug use. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: The study was conducted by Marco Leyton, Sylvia Cox, and their colleagues at McGill University and the Montreal Neurological Institute. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Sylvia M. L. Cox, Yvonne Yau, Kevin Larcher, France Durand, Theodore Kolivakis, J. Scott Delaney, Alain Dagher, Chawki Benkelfat, Marco Leyton. Cocaine Cue-Induced Dopamine Release in Recreational Cocaine Users. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7: 46665 DOI: 10.1038/srep46665

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