Treating Cocaine Addiction

Treating Cocaine Addiction

Treatment centers that work with cocaine addicts in their recovery are working against a number of effects that make cocaine a dangerous substance. Lethargy, depression, psychosis, and physiological damage are possible dangers when dealing with cocaine dependence, along with the risk of fatal overdose. As with many addictive substances, once an individual completes treatment, they are still at a high risk for relapse.

A new study published by the Institut de physiologie et biologie cellulaire (CNRS/Universte de Poitiers) shows that it may be possible to alter environmental conditions to make the treatment of cocaine addiction more successful. Positive and stimulating surroundings, say the researchers, may play a major role in treating cocaine addition.

The study was led by Marcello Solinas and Mohamed Jaber and exposed mice to an “enriched environment” to aid in removing abnormal behavior related to addiction. The environment provided to the mice stimulated their curiosity by providing social and physical activity along with elements of exploration.

The researchers first worked to establish a cocaine addiction in the mice, and then exposed the animals to an enriched environment. The large cages had a small house, a running wheel, tunnels and other toys. The toys were changed each week.

The study used three models of animal addiction. The first was behavioral sensitization, in which the researchers measured the progressive increase in the stimulating effects of cocaine after administration. The second was the location preference, in which the ability of a context was measured to lead to drug-seeking behavior. Third, the researchers measured relapses in cocaine use after a period of withdrawal.

After 30 days of exposure to the enriched environment, the researchers found that the mice exhibited no addiction behavior typical of the three models. The researchers attribute this response to a decrease in the cocaine-induced activation of a set of brain structures involved in dopaminergic transmission and associated with relapse.

The results of the study indicate the importance of evaluating the living conditions of cocaine addicts when they are admitted into therapy. The treatment centers that offer assistance with overcoming cocaine addiction should be evaluated for their environmental conditions.

In addition, when an individual has completed treatment, they can be educated on how to replicate the stimulating effects of an enriched environment in their own living spaces. A home that provides physical and intellectual stimulation may help prevent relapse. Treatment centers may also find effective ways to create take-home versions of stimulation therapy done in an inpatient program.

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