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Exercise Can Help Beat Cocaine Addiction

Summary: A new study reveals exercise can help to prevent relapse in those with cocaine addition.

Source: University at Buffalo.

Exercise can help prevent relapses into cocaine addiction, according to new research led by the University at Buffalo’s Panayotis (Peter) Thanos, PhD.

“Cocaine addiction is often characterized by cycles of recovery and relapse, with stress and negative emotions, often caused by withdrawal itself, among the major causes of relapse,” says Thanos, senior research scientist in the UB Research Institute on Addictions and Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

Using animal models, Thanos found that regular aerobic exercise (one hour on a treadmill, five times a week) decreased stress-induced cocaine-seeking behavior. Exercise also altered behavioral and physiological responses to stress.

Individuals who are addicted to cocaine have altered neural, behavioral and physiological responses to stress. Recent research by Thanos demonstrated how exercise can alter the brain’s mesolimbic dopamine pathway, which is linked to the rewarding and reinforcing properties of drugs such as cocaine.

In addition, exercise has been shown to reduce stress hormones and elevate mood, which could assist in alleviating anxiety and negative emotions associated with withdrawal.

a woman in running shoes

Recent research by Thanos demonstrated how exercise can alter the brain’s mesolimbic dopamine pathway, which is linked to the rewarding and reinforcing properties of drugs such as cocaine. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

Studies already have shown that aerobic exercise (also known as “cardio”) is an effective strategy against many physical health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and arthritis, along with certain mental health issues, such as stress, anxiety and depression.

“Our results suggest that regular aerobic exercise could be a useful strategy for relapse prevention, as part of a comprehensive treatment program for recovering cocaine abusers,” Thanos says. “Further research is necessary to see if these results also hold true for other addictive drugs.”

About this neuroscience research article

Fundng: N.Y. Research Foundation funded this study.

Source: Catherine Wilde – University at Buffalo
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Abstract for “Chronic forced exercise inhibits stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine conditioned place preference” by Lisa S. Robison, Luke Alessi, and Panayotis K. Thanos in Behavioral Brain Research. Published July 20 2018.
doi:10.1016/j.bbr.2018.07.009

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
University at Buffalo “Exercise Can Help Beat Cocaine Addiction.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 8 August 2018.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/cocaine-addiction-exercise-9678/>.
University at Buffalo (2018, August 8). Exercise Can Help Beat Cocaine Addiction. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved August 8, 2018 from http://neurosciencenews.com/cocaine-addiction-exercise-9678/
University at Buffalo “Exercise Can Help Beat Cocaine Addiction.” http://neurosciencenews.com/cocaine-addiction-exercise-9678/ (accessed August 8, 2018).

Abstract

Chronic forced exercise inhibits stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine conditioned place preference

Stress increases the likelihood of cocaine relapse in humans and animals, even following a prolonged extinction/abstinence period. Exercise has previously been shown to reduce stress and decrease the likelihood of drug dependence, while also reducing cravings in humans and inhibiting relapse behaviors due to other risk factors in rodents. The present study evaluated the efficacy of exercise to reduce stress-induced relapse to cocaine in a rodent model. Young adult female Sprague Dawley rats were tested for cocaine conditioned place preference (CPP), then split into sedentary or exercise (six weeks of one-hour daily treadmill running, five days per week) groups. Following cocaine CPP, rats were tested for extinction behavior, and then tested for stress-primed reinstatement (15 min immobilization) following the six-week intervention period. Exercise inhibited stress-induced reinstatement of cocaine CPP despite increasing serum corticosterone levels following 15 min of immobilization, suggesting that chronic aerobic exercise intervention may result in adaptations of stress pathways. These findings suggest that exercise may help prevent stress-induced drug relapse, adding to a growing body of evidence supporting the utility of exercise to combat substance abuse.

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