Although it is challenging for individuals with cocaine addiction to achieve abstinence, the greatest difficulty is avoiding relapse to drug taking, which is often triggered by cues associated with prior cocaine use. This vulnerability to relapse persists for long periods (months to years) after abstinence is achieved. Here, I discuss rodent studies of cue-induced cocaine craving during abstinence, with a focus on neuronal plasticity in the reward circuitry that maintains high levels of craving. Such work has the potential to identify new therapeutic targets and to further our understanding of experience-dependent plasticity in the adult brain under normal circumstances and in the context of addiction.
ASJC Scopus subject areas