Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research shows that environment is a major factor in addiction recovery

28.10.2005


New research in monkeys suggests that, although living in an "enriched" environment can make someone less vulnerable to abusing cocaine, once started, extended drug abuse can eliminate the social advantage the abuser originally had.



However, the research also shows that prolonged abstinence from drug use can give the recovering addict another chance, and that environment again becomes a major factor influencing the success of the recovery.

Michael A. Nader, Ph.D., professor of physiology/pharmacology and of radiology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, delivered those findings today in a course for medical professionals presented by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).


Nader said the animal research has important implications for physicians and other practitioners working with human addicts. "The most important thing that we have shown is that environmental enrichment can protect the individual from the likelihood that they’ll abuse cocaine.

"There have been many studies that show that stress – the other end of that continuum – can increase the likelihood that an individual will abuse drugs. We’ve gone to the other side of that and shown that enrichment can actually protect the individual from drug abuse."

The ASAM course, "Addiction Across the Lifespan," was scheduled to include presentations by Paul Greengard, Ph.D., a Nobel laureate, and Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Nader, one of only three animal researchers included on the program, told the group that research has focused both on behavioral patterns and on actual physiological changes in brain chemistry in animal models. He said that the animal research can verify hypotheses that can’t be tested in human subjects, due to ethical considerations.

The physiological aspects have dealt with the chemistry of dopamine, a major neurotransmitter in the brain. Cocaine increases levels of dopamine, which is apparently the cause of the intense but fleeting euphoria experienced by cocaine users. Increased levels of dopamine over long-term cocaine use causes the brain to adjust by reducing the number of dopamine (D2) "receptors."

Nader said that research has shown that social "rank" in animal populations has a significant effect on whether a monkey will take cocaine. That effect has a direct correlation with the level of D2 receptors a monkey has, as measured by noninvasive brain imaging: Dominant monkeys have more D2 receptors and are less likely to abuse cocaine than the subordinate monkeys.

But, he said, the monkeys don’t start out that way. It is the social environment itself that creates the difference in brain chemistry over time. Monkeys that become dominant have an enriched environment – more freedom, less fear, more grooming by other monkeys – while the subordinates live with more stress.

New research, Nader said, has shown that after the dominant monkeys start abusing cocaine, their D2 receptors decrease over time. Once they are taken off cocaine, however, the D2 receptors increase again with six to nine months’ abstinence. And, given the opportunity to use cocaine again, he hypothesizes that they will be less likely to relapse, compared with the subordinate monkeys.

Nader and colleague Paul W. Czoty, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology and pharmacology, described the recent research in a paper published in August in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Nader said that human examples of environmental enrichment include a job, educational opportunity, and strong family support.

And he said that practitioners and family members must understand the importance of abstinence. In humans, he said, it could take years for the brain to recover, but he believes it can eventually. "You have to remove them from the environment that they’re in where the drugs are being taken, because the environment has huge effects on the dopamine system and on the likelihood that they’ll take drugs," Nader said.

When they are abstinent, they can return to normal. "Some people have a view that once you’re addicted, you’re always addicted, and I think part of that is because of the environment.

"These data could argue that the brain does bounce back. It’s not a permanent change," Nader said. "They’re not damned because they’ve been taking cocaine. Things can return. I think that’s a promising message – that, and the fact that the environment can, in fact, protect the individual." Current research, he said, is testing whether non-addictive drugs that increase the D2 receptors in the brain could have the same effect as an enriched environment, and therefore protect a recovering addict against relapse.

Mark Wright | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wfubmc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>