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Animal study shows major role of environmental condition in drug addiction treatment and relapse prevention

In a study aimed at developing new strategies for effective addiction therapy, researchers from the Institut de physiologie et biologie cellulaire of the Université de Poitiers in France found that environmental conditions have a major role in drug addiction treatment and relapse prevention. The team showed that a positive and stimulating environment is ideal for faster and easier treatment of cocaine addiction.

The study made use of laboratory mice, which were made addicted to cocaine before being placed in an enriched environment during the withdrawal phase. The enriched environment used for the experiment was an area which stimulated the mice’s curiosity and which provided venues for physical and social activity. It was made from large cages equipped with a running wheel, small house, tunnels, and various toys.

The mice were observed based on three animal addiction models: behavioral sensitization, location preference, and relapse. The first model measured the progression of cocaine’s stimulating effects after administration of chronic dosages while the second was for measuring the cocaine-associated context’s ability to evoke drug seeking behavior. The last model measure the ability of cocaine to lead into a relapse after withdrawal.

After thirty days of exposure to the enriched environment, the mice were observed to be devoid of most of the addiction-related behaviors that are often associated with the three models.

The researchers then employed a functional neuro-anatomy approach to determine which areas of the brain were involved in perpetuating the effect of the enriched environment. They were able to associate the prevention of relapse in the enriched mice to the decrease in drug-induced activation of some brain structures involved in relapse.

The medical and societal implications of the findings of this study are plenty. First, the results points to the integral role played by drug dependents living conditions to determining the best therapy for them. The study also calls for a conscious effort of creating enriched environments inside drug and alcohol abuse treatment centers. Treatment centers should be able to provide patients with living conditions that encourage physical, social, and intellectual stimulation. As per the results of the study, treating addiction in deprived conditions can prove to be highly challenging.

This also study points to the importance of choosing a drug and alcohol abuse treatment center that provides a favorable environment such as the Miramar Recovery Center. We provide holistic and spiritual treatment programs in quiet and stimulating atmosphere near the famed Newport and Laguna Beach areas. Find out more about addiction and the treatment options we offer by calling our helpline today.

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