How science will ruin the drug binge you had planned for this weekend

Rehab isn't a reliable way of getting off drugs, so neuroscientists are investigating ways to create drugs that will prevent you from getting high in the first place. Now a new discovery promises to make your brain totally immune to the effects of cocaine.

Published this week in Nature Neuroscience, the study investigated receptors in your brain that are often targeted by drugs like marijuana and cocaine. These "cannabinoid receptors" are connected to the brain's reward system, but we're still fairly unsure of how they work. Now it seems that certain drugs mess with one kind of cannabinoid receptor in an unexpected way. Instead of getting you high, these drugs sober you up. When coke-addicted rats took the drugs, they were much less interested in self-administering cocaine. And they showed fewer effects from the cocaine they took.

According to a release about the study:

Cannabinoids are psychoactive compounds, found for example in marijuana, and their behavioural effects are mediated by the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. While drugs that activate the CB1 receptor are known to stimulate the brain's reward system and provoke relapse to drug seeking after prolonged withdrawal, the role of brain CB2 receptors in modulating the effects of drug-of-abuse is not known.

Zheng-Xiong Xi and colleagues found two classes of drugs that selectively activate the CB2 receptors. When these drugs were given to mice just before they were allowed to self-administer cocaine, the team discovered that CB2 activation reduced the bouts and amount of drug intake, as well as the subsequent cocaine-induced locomotor-stimulating effects seen in the mice.

Either Xi and colleagues have found the ultimate drug for bingers who need to sober up instantly, or they've taken us one step closer to curing destructive drug addictions. Xi's team is one of several groups working on drugs that could manipulate cannabinoid receptors to control addiction, so you may be seeing "sober pills" on the market sooner than you think.

You can read the full scientific study in Nature Neuroscience