Although neuroimaging investigations in human cocaine abusers have provided important insights into the brain changes that accompany drug use, the interpretation of reports in human abusers can be very difficult. Studies in nonhuman primates provide a way to systematically evaluate the structural and functional adaptations engendered by cocaine self-administration without the confounds of human research. Functional activity, measured with metabolic mapping methods, and markers of the dopamine system, assessed autoradiographically, were evaluated over the course of chronic cocaine self-administration (5 days, 3.3 months, and 15-22 months). Within the striatum the topography of these responses shifts dramatically over time. Changes in functional activity and alterations in the dopamine system occupy larger and larger portions of dorsal and ventral striatum with increasing durations of cocaine exposure. The growing impact of cocaine suggests that the elements of the behavioral repertoire outside of the influence of cocaine become smaller and smaller with increasing durations of exposure to drug use resulting in cocaine's dominance over all aspects of the addict's life.