Setting affects pleasure of heroin and cocaine

May 14, 2018

Drug users show substance-specific differences in the rewarding effects of heroin versus cocaine depending on where they use the drugs, according to a study published in JNeurosci. Considering this interaction between drug type and location in the treatment of addiction could help to prevent relapse.

Silvana De Pirro, Aldo Badiani, and colleagues recruited two groups of participants receiving treatment for substance use disorder at a medical center in Rome. The researchers asked the first group to recall a typical drug episode and indicate how arousing and pleasant their experience was with each drug (heroin or cocaine) in two different settings (at home or outside the home). With guidance, the second group imagined using the drugs in each setting while their brain activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging.

The results show that users had a more pleasurable experience using heroin at home while cocaine use was more pleasurable outside the home, consistent with previous reports on drug preference in rats and humans. The brain regions activated during the emotional imagery task included those involved in processing drug reward and context: the prefrontal cortex, caudate, and cerebellum. The researchers conclude that the human response to addictive drugs depends on both the setting and substance of use.
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Article: The affective and neural correlates of heroin vs. cocaine use in addiction are influenced by environmental setting but in opposite directions
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0019-18.2018
Corresponding authors: Silvana De Pirro, S.DePirro@sussex.ac.uk and Aldo Badiani, aldo.badiani@sussex.ac.uk (University of Sussex, Brighton, UK)

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

Society for Neuroscience

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