Combining Caffeine With Cocaine Provides Even More Addictive Boost

By McCarton Ackerman 11/20/15

Surprising no one, researchers concluded that a caffeine-cocaine combo packs a powerful punch.

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It may seem like common sense that combining stimulants would provide a greater energy boost than taking them individually, but a new study has confirmed this by showing that combining cocaine with caffeine can result in an even more powerful jolt.

A previous study led by Jose Prieto, a neurochemist at the Biological Research Institute Clemente Stable in Montevideo, Uruguay, and published last May in the American Journal on Addictions, found that rats ran farther on a combination of cocaine and caffeine than just cocaine alone. Prieto has now further added on to this research with new findings about how caffeine worsens the already addictive potential of cocaine.

Teaming up with Valentina Valentini, a neuroscientist at the University of Cagliari in Italy, the researchers implanted catheters into rats and attempted to train them to administer saline, cocaine, caffeine, and cocaine-caffeine combined. The rats never learned to self-administer saline or caffeine, but were able to do so when it came to cocaine and the cocaine-caffeine combo.

Next, the rats were then prompted to poke a trigger to receive a fix of a drug. Over time, they had to poke the trigger more times in succession in order to receive the same fix. Although the rats were motivated to work for the cocaine, they showed even greater resilience in working for the cocaine-caffeine combo.

The findings are particularly noteworthy because drug distributors throughout South America are now slashing their costs by “cutting” cocaine with caffeine. A 2011 study by Prieto, published in Behavioral Brain Research, found that nearly 80% of coca paste samples, a popular form of cocaine in South America, were tainted with cocaine. The amount of caffeine ranged from 1-15% of the total drug volume. Prieto explained that because coca paste is smoked, the cocaine in the paste hits the brain more quickly than if it were snorted and therefore makes it more addictive.

His team’s next research project will be to find out exactly how caffeine contributes to giving cocaine an extra buzz.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.