Stress and Addiction: A Critical Link
Brown University recently published research regarding new information that could allow new treatments to be formulated for those suffering from addiction, all by identifying the exact brain region in rats where the neural steps leading to relapse take place. This will allow them to focus on blocking a critical step in the process of stress-induced relapse.1
Earlier research has shown that stress can lead to drug abuse in many individuals, especially increasing the risk of relapse in addicts who are trying to recover.1 While exactly how feeling stressed triggers relapse is still not completely understood, the information published by Brown provides new insight that could lead to more effective treatments.1
Stress and Synapses
The study found that being stressed has effects on the plasticity of the synapses on dopamine neurons in the ventral tegmental area of the brain, where neural activities that lead to stress-induced relapse happen.1 Brown found that stress activates kappa opioid receptors (KORs) in the ventral tegmental area, and blocking those receptors in rats stopped them from relapsing on cocaine while under stress.1 Therefore, blocking those receptors in humans may do the same.1 However, the chemical used to block the receptors, nor-BMI, is not ready to be tested on humans.1
Recovering from Stress=Recovering from Addiction
This information could help the medical community progress towards an era of medicine that accelerates the amount of time a person needs to recover from addiction.1
 Gregoire, C. (2013, March 11). Stress & Addiction: Research Identifies How Stress Triggers Drug Relapse. The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 12, 2013, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/11/stress-addiction-drug-relapse_n_2837819.html Stress.