Study Examines Environmental Impact on Addiction Relapse

Addiction can control a life, making it difficult to kick a habit completely. Even those who have been able to remain abstinent for long periods of time are still at risk of being vulnerable to their own memories of prior drug or substance abuse. A recent Science Daily release focused on a recent study that found exposure to the same environment in which the addict commonly used a substance can increase the craving for that substance dramatically, often leading to relapse. This study examined the novel compound that may ease the power of such memories. “In this study, we found that after repeatedly giving cocaine injections to rats within a particular environment, the rats developed a strong preference for that environment over another environment where a placebo was given,” explained M. Foster Olive, Ph.D., co-author and senior investigator, in Science Daily. “Next, we treated the animals with an experimental drug called CDPPB, and found that it decreased the rats’ preference for the cocaine-associated environment during subsequent tests.” The process is known as extinction learning. In the process, the compound helps the brain to create new associations instead of retrieving the old associations. The study could aid in the development of new therapeutic treatments that could provide promise when used in conjunction with exposure therapy, which is used to desensitize individuals to stimuli that invoke negative responses or emotions. John Krystal, M.D., Editor of Biological Psychiatry agrees. “It will be interesting to see whether this approach extends to the treatment of cocaine abuse or other addictions,” said Krystal. “Further, it will be important to see whether mGluR5 agonists [like CDPPD] might play a role in the treatment of the extinction of other forms of maladaptive learning, such as the traumatic memories associated with posttraumatic stress disorder.”

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