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A new study suggests men and women might benefit from different treatment for cocaine dependence.

Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine conducted brain scans on 30 cocaine-dependent people, and 36 who were recreational drinkers. While participants were undergoing the scans, they were presented with personalized situations or events that they had indicated were stressful, as well as cues involving cocaine or alcohol.

People who were cocaine-dependent showed greater activation in broad areas of the brain linked to addiction and motivation, compared with the recreational drinkers. Patterns of activation were markedly different in men and women when presented with stress or drug cues, according to Science Daily. Lead researcher Marc Potenza said the findings suggest women with cocaine dependence may benefit from stress-reduction treatment that specifically targets these cravings, while men may benefit more from 12-step programs or cognitive behavioral therapy.

“There are differences in treatment outcomes for people with addictions who experience stress-induced drug cravings and those whose cravings are induced by drug cues,” Potenza said in a Yale news release. “It is important to understand the biologic mechanisms that underlie these cravings.”

The findings are scheduled to be published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.


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