Pubdate: Sat, 14 Jan 2017
Source: New York Post (NY)
Copyright: 2017 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc.


Women can blame their cocaine addictions on their biology, according to a
new study that claims that ladies are more susceptible to the drug's
addictive qualities.

Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, specifically spikes in
estrogen, intensify the drug's pleasurable effects, according to
researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai on The Upper East

"Our study will change the way we think about addiction research to
emphasize the need to further understand female subjects, as most research
on addiction has been conducted in male subjects," the study's lead
author, Dr. Erin Calipari, said in a statement.

The study, published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, used
male and female mice to observe how cocaine affects the brain's reward

Female mice exhibiting higher levels of estrogen had more dopamine
released for longer periods of time -- extending the effects of the drug,
the researchers found.

"Females are experiencing more of a high, and it's causing problems later
because it's so intense that they get more addicted," Calipari told The

She said her findings back up other research that found that while men
make up a larger percentage of total drug addicts, women are more likely
to stay hooked and unable to shake the habit.

"A lot of that is because males have more opportunity in society. They're
in situations where drugs are more available," Calipari said. "But if you
take that out, the timeline from first use to substance abuse is really
fast for women."

"At the height of the menstrual cycle, pleasure feelings are at their
peak," Calipari said, adding that women have estrogen spikes about 10 days
out of the month.

And the same is true for humans, Calipari said, as mice's brains have the
same brain organization and dopamine system.

"Cocaine acts the exact same way in humans and mice. It's just humans are
more complicated," she said.

Those involved with helping treat addicts need to realize that different
methods may work better with different genders, she noted.

"We need to consider sex as a variable when talking about addiction
treatments. We need to have more specialized treatment for drug abusers
because the mechanisms that are driving the addiction are likely
different," Calipari said.

Calipari is now expanding her current research to determine whether birth
control pills can help female addicts, since the medication would regulate
hormone levels, and cut down the intensity of the estrogen spikes.
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