Addicts May Be Seeking Relief from Emotional Lows More than Euphoric Highs

Posted on November 9, 2013

Cocaine addicts may become trapped in drug binges - not because of the euphoric highs they are chasing but rather the unbearable emotional lows they desperately want to avoid.

In a study published today online in Psychopharmacology, Rutgers University Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Professor Mark West, and doctoral student David Barker in the Department of Psychology, in the School of Arts and Sciences, challenge the commonly held view that drug addiction occurs because users are always going after the high. Based on new animal studies, they discovered that the initial positive feelings of intoxication are short lived - quickly replaced by negative emotional responses whenever drug levels begin to fall.

If these animal models are a mirror into human addiction, Rutgers researchers say that addicts who learned to use drugs to either achieve a positive emotional state or to relieve a negative one are vulnerable to situations that trigger either behavior.

“Our results suggest that once the animals started a binge, they may have felt trapped and didn’t like it,” said West. “This showed us that negative emotions play an equal, if not more important role in regulating cocaine abuse.”


Category(s):Addictions

Source material from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


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