Revealed: Why drug users prefer heroin at home, but cocaine while out

Revealed: Why drug users prefer heroin at home, but cocaine while out

Neuroscientists at the University of Sussex have shown by using brain scans of drug users that heroin stimulates a more pleasurable response when taken at home but cocaine is more pleasurable outside the home, such as in a club. The findings demonstrate for the first time that the setting of drug-taking is an important factor in how the brain processes the experience, and could have important implications for the treatment of drug addiction.

The study is published today, Monday 14 May, in the Journal of Neuroscience, the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. Dr Silvana De Pirro and Professor Aldo Badiani at the Sussex Addiction Research and Intervention Centre (SARIC) at the University of Sussex, in collaboration with colleagues at Sapienza University of Rome, Italy, recruited people with addiction to both cocaine and heroin who receive treatment at a medical centre in Rome.

The researchers tested the ‘mismatch hypothesis’: that taking heroin — which induces a sedative state — while in a stimulating context like a club, and taking cocaine — which is a stimulant — in a private context, creates an emotional state that is at odds with the environment. This mismatch prevents the drug feeling pleasurable.

Full story at Science Daily