Cocaine contributes to overdose deaths among some minorities

Drug overdose deaths are a major public health concern across all racial/ethnic groups, and are often associated with opioid use. However, a new study shows that cocaine is also a consistent contributor to overdose deaths. The research suggests that rates of cocaine-related overdose deaths in the non-Hispanic black population are similar to heroin-related deaths among non-Hispanic white women and prescription opioid-related deaths among non-Hispanic white men. The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Cancer Institute, both part of the National Institutes of Health.

The authors suggest that although strategies to address prescription opioid and heroin overdoses remain critical for all racial/ethnic groups, prevention efforts focused on reducing cocaine-related deaths among the non-Hispanic black population are also needed.

Full story at drugabuse.gov

First large scale study of cocaine users leads to breakthrough in drug testing

Scientists from the University of Surrey have developed a rapid and highly sensitive fingerprint test that can take just seconds to confirm whether someone has used cocaine.

This new breakthrough, published in Clinical Chemistry, comes as a result of the first large scale study of cocaine users and could pave the way for the detection of a range of other Class A substances.

The research was carried out with partners from the Netherlands Forensic Institute and Intelligent Fingerprinting.

Full story at Science Daily

Stress flips cocaine relapse to ‘on’; research switches it back to ‘off’

A heartbreaking phenomenon of addiction is that just a brief stressful episode can trigger relapse. In a detailed new cocaine addiction study conducted in rat models, which closely parallel human addictive behavior, scientists have identified what appears to be taking place in the mammalian brain to make that happen and uncovered the molecular biology that allows them to switch the stress-induced relapse back off.

The findings, published in the journal eLife, suggest a new way to develop medicines to combat relapse, even a day or so after stress has occurred.

“That’s so critical because you don’t want to be taking medication all the time in anticipation of stress,” said senior author Julie Kauer, a professor of molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology at Brown University.

Full story of stress triggers cocaine relapses at Science Daily

Cocaine addiction leads to build-up of iron in brain

Cocaine addiction may affect how the body processes iron, leading to a build-up of the mineral in the brain, according to new research from the University of Cambridge. The study, published today in Translational Psychiatry, raises hopes that there may be a biomarker — a biological measure of addiction — that could be used as a target for future treatments.

Cocaine is one of the most widely-used illicit drugs in the Western world and is highly addictive. A report last year by the UK government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs found that almost one in 10 of all 16-to 59-year-olds have used cocaine in their lifetime. Cocaine use was implicated in, but not necessarily the cause of 234 deaths in Scotland, England and Wales in 2013. However, despite significant advances in our understanding of the biology of addiction — including how the brains of people addicted to cocaine may differ in structure — there is currently no medical treatment for cocaine addiction; most individuals are treated with talking or cognitive therapies.

Full story of cocaine addiction and iron in the brain at Science Daily