A study appearing in the September issue of Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews suggests that pharmacokinetics play a significant role in the risk of abuse and misuse associated with varying drugs, from nicotine to cocaine.

Researchers from the University of Montreal conducted a literature review to evaluate the role of pharmacokinetics and addiction risk with varying drugs of abuse and misuse. They discovered that how fast a drug reaches the brain and how often brain levels rise and fall are essential to the development of drug addiction; for example, when a drug is smoked or injected intravenously, the amount of the drug in the brain increases and decreased quickly compared to if the drug is inhaled or swallowed. This high and rapid peak of drug concentration, followed by a rapid decline, are critical to drug addiction risk.

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Changing a drug’s pharmacokinetic principles can help in drug treatment, such as nicotine patches or oral methadone for smoking and heroin cessation therapy. This could be used to guide treatments for cocaine addiction, of which there are currently no FDA-approved pharmacotherapies.

For more information visit UMontreal.ca.