Neurobiology of cocaine addiction: implications for new pharmacotherapy

Am J Addict. 2007 Mar-Apr;16(2):71-8. doi: 10.1080/10550490601184142.


The development of pharmacotherapies for cocaine addiction has been disappointingly slow. However, new neurobiological knowledge of how the brain is changed by chronic pharmacological insult with cocaine is revealing novel targets for drug development. Certain drugs currently being tested in clinical trials tap into the underlying cocaine-induced neuroplasticity, including drugs promoting GABA or inhibiting glutamate transmission. Armed with rationales derived from a neurobiological perspective that cocaine addiction is a pharmacologically induced disease of neuroplasticity in brain circuits mediating normal reward learning, one can expect novel pharmacotherapies to emerge that directly target the biological pathology of addiction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Drug Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Receptors, GABA / drug effects*
  • Receptors, GABA / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Reward
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects


  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Dopamine