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Piomelli 2001

Piomelli 2001

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Published by: Matias Ceballos Guzman on Dec 10, 2010
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02/10/2013

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NATURE MEDICINE
• VOLUME 7 • NUMBER 10 • OCTOBER 2001 
 
NEWS & VIEWS
Cannabinoid activity curtails cocaine craving
Behavioral studies demonstrate that the central mechanism involved in cocaine relapse is closely linked tothe sites where mari- juana has its effect, suggesting that cannabinoid receptor antagonists may be used as anti-craving agents.(pages 1151–1154)
A
lthough
drugs begins
the use
of as a voluntary psychoactive behav-
D
ANIELEior, in addicted individuals it becomes asuncontrollable as the compulsive, ritual-ized acts that afflict obsessive-compul-sive disorder patients. The overpoweringnature of drug addiction and the associ-ated changes in brain structure andfunction have led to conceptualizationof this condition as a chronic disease of the central nervous system. Like other chronic brain diseases, drug addictiongoes through recurrent cycles of re-mission and relapse, which can bereadily triggered when abstinentaddicts are confronted with re-minders of their drug habit (‘condi-tioned cues’) or with emotionaldistress. The prevention of such re-lapses is thus one of the primarygoals of addiction treatment1.Relapse to drug taking can bemodeled in laboratory animals. Inone such model, the ‘reinstate-ment paradigm’, cocaine self-ad-ministration is first induced in ratsand then extinguished by subject-ing the animals to a period of ab-stinence. After drug taking hasstopped, exposure to stress, admin-istration of low doses of cocaine or  presentation of cocaine-associatedcues will cause the behavior toreappear. Regardless of the stimu-lus, relapses are accompanied byincreased activity of the mesolim- bic dopamine system—a neural pathway comprising a small groupof dopamine-releasing cells in themidbrain connected to a much larger field of dopamine-responsive neuronsin the forebrain’s nucleus accumbensand prefrontal cortex (Fig. 1). This path-

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