Anxiety during Withdrawal from Cocaine

Anxiety during Withdrawal from Cocaine

Relapse is common among those struggling to overcome an addiction to cocaine. Besides the physical ailments associated with discontinuing use of a drug, often psychological factors cause the drug user to be susceptible to a relapse.

It is important to understand the symptoms of a withdrawal, so that treatment centers may be able to better assist individuals with avoiding a relapse. The symptoms of withdrawal are often combated with other medications to ease their potency, making withdrawal more successful.

Santucci and Rosario (2010) recently examined the consequences of withdrawal in an animal model study, looking at how symptoms of anxiety develop during withdrawal from cocaine. The objective of the study was to examine the ways that anxiety levels are influenced by withdrawal, in anticipation that when applied to human beings, relapse risk might be reduced.

The researchers randomly assigned 26 male adolescent Long-Evans hooded rats to one of three groups. The first received daily injections of saline, the second received daily injections of 10 mg/kg of cocaine hydrochloride, and the third received daily injections of 20 mg/kg cocaine hydrochloride.

The injections were given for 7 or 8 days, followed by a recovery period of 10 to 11 days. The rats were then tested for anxiety levels in an elevated zero maze. The rats were measured for time spent in the open areas of the maze on two different occasions that were 24 hours apart.

The time spent in the open areas was examined as a measure of animals’ habitation, because the researchers identified the failure to spend time in open areas as a measure of anxiety-related behavior.

The results of the study show that compared to the first occasion, the rats spent more time in the open areas during the second exposure to the maze and open areas. In addition, those rats given saline solution spent more time in open areas during the second session than their cocaine-injected counterparts.

Limitations to this study include a consideration whether the results may be applicable to human withdrawal experiences. The rats were also given a limited amount of cocaine, which may not translate to similar results in humans that have a cocaine addiction.
The results of the study indicate that early withdrawal from cocaine produces symptoms of anxiety in rats. Further study is necessary to determine whether these results also apply to human behavior during withdrawal from cocaine, but if so, steps should be taken to reduce anxiety in individuals in early withdrawal from cocaine to prevent relapse.
 

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