Rats given morphine show bigger biological and behavioral signs of stress-induced anxiety even after going off the drug
A new study has found that opiate drugs such as morphine leave animals more vulnerable to stress. This means that stress and opiates are in a vicious cycle: Not only does stress trigger drug use, but in return the drug leaves animals more vulnerable to stress. The study, conducted at the University of New South Wales, helps to explain why people who use opiates such as heroin have very high rates of anxiety problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder, even after they stop using. That emotional fragility can also make them more likely to start using again.
The study appears in the current issue of the journal Behavioral Neuroscience, which is published by the American Psychological Association (APA). Understanding how opiate users respond to and cope with stress may lead to better treatment and help prevent relapses. Co-author Gavan McNally, PhD, notes that heroin is the most commonly used illicit opiate, followed perhaps by morphine. In medical settings, pethidine, fentanyl, morphine and codeine are typically used.
Pam Willenz | EurekAlert!
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