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Study hints at brain chemistry of cocaine withdrawal pain

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WASHINGTON — US researchers have uncovered part of what’s happening, on a cellular level, to make cocaine addicts going cold turkey feel so bloody awful, according to a study published Monday.

The results provide a better understanding of what’s creating that crashing low of withdrawal — and may offer a clue for researchers looking to mitigate the symptoms and keep the user from relapsing.

Studying genetically-engineered mice, the researchers focused on a molecule — called cannabinoid receptor 1, or CB1 — that slows communication between nerve cells.

The molecule is particularly important in what is called the nucleus accumbens region of the brain, which governs emotion and motivation.

It was already well-known that cocaine produces strong effects on that part of the brain. But this is the first study of cocaine’s impact on CR1 production, and what that means for the nucleus accumbens during and after a cocaine high.

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When a person is high on cocaine, “it speeds everything up, pushing you to a highly rewarding emotional state,” said lead author, Bradley Winters.

The cocaine caused the mice to produce an excess of CB1, effectively slamming the brakes on the brain’s hyper-activity in the nucleus accumbens.

“It is kind of like going down a steep hill so you have to start riding that brake really hard,” Winters explained in a statement.

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The problem is that the brain doesn’t seem to know to let up on the brakes, after the cocaine high wears off.

“You’re still riding that brake just as hard. Now you’re going down a regular, low-grade hill but you’re going two miles per hour because your foot is still jammed on the brake,” he said.

“The state is like, ‘I feel terrible and I don’t want to do anything,” he continued, adding that’s “what brings you back to the drug because you want to feel better and the drug is the only thing you feel motivation for.”

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The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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Trump’s racism is ‘disqualifying’ for him to remain as president: former White House lawyer

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Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained on MSNBC on Thursday why he viewed President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four women of color in Congress as disqualifying.

Anchor Brian Williams read a quote from Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

"Half of the country is appalled but not really sure how to combat him; the other half is cheering, or at least averting its gaze. This is what a political civil war looks like, with words, for now, as weapons," Glasser wrote.

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Lawrence O’Donnell reports on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump

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Anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump during Thursday evening's "The Last Word" on MSNBC.

"The House of Representatives conducted a symbolic vote on a hastily written impeachment resolution by Democratic Congressman Al Green in reaction to the president’s tweeted comments that the House of Representatives voted to condemn as racist," O'Donnell reported. "The impeachment resolution had nothing to do with the [Robert] Mueller investigation and referred only to the president being unfit for office because of the language that he has used recently about members of Congress and immigrants and asylum seekers."

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Video proves how far the Trump’s GOP has gone from the era of Ronald Reagan and HW Bush

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The immigration policies of Donald Trump’s presidency would have no room for his GOP predecessors Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush—who both embraced work visas, family unification, easy border crossings and a better relationship with Mexico.

That counterpoint can be seen in a very short video clip from the 1980 presidential election where Reagan and Bush—who became Reagan’s vice president for two terms before winning the presidency in 1988—were asked about immigration at a campaign debate in Texas. Their responses show just how far to the right the Republican Party’s current leader, President Trump, and voters who have not left the GOP to become self-described political independents, have moved on immigration.

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