New research from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai reveals that chronic cocaine addiction may be associated with deficits in parts of the brain involved in overseeing one’s behavior.
The research involved 53 individuals living with or without cocaine use disorder. The participants were evaluated on their perception of their drug-related issues and later underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
MRI scans of addicted individuals who lacked self-awareness of their substance use behaviors showed structural abnormalities in gray-matter integrity in the anterior cingulate cortex—the part of the brain that controls recognition of and response to mistakes. The researchers noted that the deficits were prominent in this group but not in a group of other cocaine-addicted individuals whose self-awareness was intact.
Scott Moeller, Ph.D., the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, pointed out that the findings could have important clinical implications. “Once at the clinic, additional intervention for these individuals could include mindfulness therapies to cultivate self-awareness of substance use triggers and consequences.”
Moeller and colleagues hope to further their studies by investigating how self-awareness relates to drug treatment outcomes. ■