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Scientists recommend combination of exercise and meth to treat meth addiction

Scientists recommend combination of exercise and meth to treat meth addiction

01-12 | CDAH Team

Dependence on methamphetamine can be hard to get rid of due to its highly addictive properties. Methamphetamine can be smoked, chewed, inhaled or injected. The signs of meth abuse include increased level of attention and reduced degree of exhaustion.

Meth addiction is treated through a combination of medications and therapeutic interventions. However, researchers from the University at Buffalo have suggested that combining exercise and meth can be a novel method to treat meth addiction. The study, titled “Learned motivation drives circadian physiology in the absence of the master circadian clock,” revealed the possibility of using methamphetamine to get rid of its addiction by linking the use of the drug to an external stimulus, i.e. exercise.

The study, published online in The FASEB Journal in October 2016, was based on the knowledge that the circadian system is adversely affected during drug dependence, which is associated with less chance of recovery. The research was based on the premise that addiction disrupts circadian rhythms, thus, aggravating the cravings for the drug and increasing the chance of relapse.

As both exercise and methamphetamine use affect circadian rhythms, the researchers took into consideration the fact that both meth and running on a wheel to exercise target the same reward centers in the brain. This implies that the success rate of being registered in a rehabilitation center and avoiding the chance of relapse are associated with the extent of circadian disturbance in people addicted to the drug.

For research purposes, the scientists observed mice that did not have the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a small region in the brain’s hypothalamus that acts as the master circadian clock. It was removed for the study. Co-authors of the study Dr. Oliver Rawashdeh, a lecturer and head of the Chronobiology lab in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia, said, “Metabolism and sleep cycles are all off kilter when someone is addicted, just like an animal whose master circadian clock has been removed.”

Combination of meth and exercise can cure its dependence

The scientists explained meth addiction as being in an incessant condition of jet lag. Those dependent on meth have been described to be in a continual transition state with the same nature of behavior being portrayed by the mice under observation. The researchers explained, “That’s what happens when the SCN, the master circadian driver, becomes decoupled from the so-called ‘slave’ oscillators that it controls, one of which is the methamphetamine-sensitive circadian oscillator or MASCO.”

It was observed that allowing access to a running wheel and meth help re-establish circadian rhythms in the mice with removed SCN, thus, providing timely feedback to a newly triggered circadian brain clock, which could be the MASCO.

Elucidating the motive behind the idea, Rawashdeh added, “Our idea was that if you pair a reward, in this case access to the running wheel, along with methamphetamine in 24-hour intervals over a period of time, the animal’s fragmented sleep/wake cycles would acclimatize to the 24-hour cycles, a process we call entrainment and consolidation. Even more fascinating is the fact that the re-established circadian rhythm persists even after removing methamphetamine.”

Exercise encourages the growth of new neurons, which may also help in rewiring the brain that takes place during recovery. The authors suggested that if this association can be reproduced in people, it might enable expedite the effectiveness of drug rehabilitation, alleviate probability of relapse and re-instate healthy circadian rhythms post withdrawal. However, they are yet to discover how combining exercise and methamphetamine initiates a new circadian clock in the brain to activate robust rhythms that help manage drug withdrawal process.

Road to recovery

Addiction can be to any kind of substance, but the condition needs to be addressed promptly. Timely treatment ensures a successful outcome. If you or a loved one is addicted to a drug and needs help, contact the Colorado Drug Addiction Helpline in finding reputable centers offering addiction treatment in Colorado. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-218-7546 or chat online with one of our representatives to receive complete information about the best drug addiction treatment centers in Colorado.

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