Drug addiction relapse motivated by addiction


Philadelphia, December 17, 2021 Why are some people able to use recreational drugs in a controlled manner, while others adopt the compulsive and recurrent drug seeking and use habits that characterize substance use disorder (SUD)? Despite more than six decades of extensive research, the question remains unanswered, hampering the development of targeted prevention and treatment strategies. Now, a new study in rats identifies the maladaptive nature of drug-seeking habits and how they contribute to the perpetuation of addiction by promoting the tendency to relapse.

The study appears in Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier.

Given the importance of the drug itself in the development and perpetuation of SUD, the research community has naturally focused on the adaptations of the brain in response to exposure to addictive drugs, such as cocaine. , leading to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the consumption of these drugs. medications. But people with SUD don’t just take addictive drugs, they spend a lot of time looking for those drugs over long periods of time. During drug seeking, many compulsive behaviors characteristic of SUD occur, especially during episodes of relapse into drug seeking after periods of forced abstinence.

“Therefore,” says David Belin, PhD, lead author of the study, “we have found it important to consider the psychological and neural mechanisms of the tendency to inflexibly engage in drug-seeking behaviors, which may reflect the development of inappropriate drug hunting habits. “

In rats, the search for drugs over long periods of time is sustained and invigorated by drug-paired signals, much like in humans. In rats and humans, engagement in foraging behavior becomes inherently satisfying.

“When prevented from adopting their drug-seeking behavior, under conditions such as human incarceration, individuals experience the build-up of internal distress which results in explosive behavior upon relapse, which is mediated by what’s called “negative urgency,” “says Dr. Belin. “Notably, this study demonstrates that the development of ‘incentive habits’ enables the recruitment of flexible and targeted behaviors during relapse” – namely, accomplishment inducing relief from the drug seeking habit, rather than the drug itself. This negative emotional urgency is a risk factor for relapse and continued SUD.

The study builds support for the idea that drug addiction is a psychiatric disorder, and it identifies the development of ingrained habits as a key psychological process that contributes to the perpetuation of drug-seeking behavior and relapse.

John Krystal, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Biological Psychiatry, said of the book, “There has been a historical focus on negative emotional states as a trigger for relapse in substance use. the emotional urgency associated with the inability to perform the habit as a significant new risk mechanism. “

Notes for Editors
The article is “Negative urgency exacerbates relapse in search of cocaine after abstinence”, by Maxime Fouyssac, Yolanda Peña-Oliver, Mickaël Puaud, Nicole Lim, Chiara Guiliano, Barry Everitt and David Belin (https: / /doi.org/10.1016/j .biopsych.2021.10.009). It appears as an article in the press in Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier.

Copies of this document are available on request for accredited journalists; please contact Rhiannon Bugno at [email protected] or +1 254 522 9700. Journalists wishing to interview the authors can contact David Belin at [email protected] or (+44) 1223 334016.

Author affiliations and conflict of interest and financial disclosures are available in the article.

John H. Krystal, MD, is chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, chief of psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and research psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Health System. His conflict of interest and financial statements are available here.

On Biological Psychiatry
Biological Psychiatry is the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry, whose aim is to promote excellence in scientific research and education in fields that study the nature, causes, mechanisms and treatments of thought disorders, emotions or behavior. In keeping with this mission, this international, peer-reviewed, rapid-publication journal publishes fundamental and clinical contributions from all disciplines and research areas relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of major psychiatric disorders.

The journal publishes new original research findings that represent an important new lead or impact on the field, particularly those focusing on genetic and environmental risk factors, neural circuits and neurochemistry, and important new therapeutic approaches. Reviews and comments that focus on topics of current research and interest are also encouraged.

Biological Psychiatry is one of the most selective and cited journals in the field of psychiatric neuroscience. It is ranked 7e out of 156 psychiatry titles and 11e of 273 Neuroscience titles in the Citations Reports® Journal published by Clarivate Analytics. The 2020 impact factor score for Biological Psychiatry is 13.382. www.sobp.org/journal

About Elsevier
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In everything we publish, we hold ourselves to the highest standards of quality and integrity. We bring the same rigor to our information analysis solutions for researchers, health professionals, institutions and funders.

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Media contact
Rhiannon Bugno, Editorial Office
Biological Psychiatry
+1 254 522 9700
[email protected]


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