Miami Cocaine Dealers.In this study, researchers demonstrated the rapid passage of cocaine through the brain,
and showed that the intensity of the volunteers’ cocaine “high” parallels
the trajectory of cocaine levels in the brain.
Two minutes after the cocaine injection, the volunteers report being
“high” as the drug begins to flood the brain. The volunteers’ ratings of their
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“high” and the amount of drug in the brain are at similar levels relative to what their
respective peak levels will be. Four minutes after the cocaine injection, the volunteers’
rating of their “high” peaks simultaneously with the number of drugs in the brain. The
drug is most concentrated in the striatum, the region of the brain that produces feelings
of reward. The volunteers’ perceived “high”, the amount of drug in the brain, and the drug
concentration in the striatum, remained near peak levels 10 minutes after the cocaine injection.
At 20 minutes post-injection, the volunteers’ “high” and the overall amount of cocaine in
the brain have subsided to roughly half of their peak levels. The drug remains most concentrated
in the striatum. The volunteers’ “high” almost entirely subsided 30 minutes after
the injection. A moderate amount of the drug remains in the striatum,
with little remaining in other parts of the brain.
Forty minutes after the cocaine injection, the volunteers
no longer feel “high”, and the drug is undetectable in most parts of the brain. Altogether, the
study demonstrates that the cocaine “high” parallels the trajectory of cocaine levels
in the brain. The striatum, as the reward center, and dopamine, its primary neurotransmitter,
appear to be particularly instrumental in producing the “high”.