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New Study Finds Exercise Can Help Addicts Recover

New Study Finds Exercise Can Help Addicts Recover

New research coming out of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo may significantly affect centres for drug rehab in Winnipeg.

New research coming out of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo may significantly affect centres for drug rehab in Winnipeg.

 

The study found that a combination of exercise and methamphetamine could be an effective treatment for drug addiction, through an experiment conducted on mice. According to the researchers, the effects methamphetamine and exercise have on an individual’s circadian rhythm, and the mechanism through which these effects take place.

 

“Our experiments show that it might be possible to use methamphetamine to treat meth addiction itself, by associating drug usage with a stimuli that’s not harmful: exercise,” said Oliver Rawashdeh, a co-author of the study.

 

Rawashdeh and his team based their hypothesis that in mice, both the drug and running on the wheel for exercise stimulate the same reward centre of the brain, and this centre of the brain is also linked to the daily synchronization of basic physiological rhythms, such as when to wake up or go to sleep.

 

Addictions, however, usually disrupt these rhythms, which is why the researchers were primarily drawn to studying them in the context of drug addiction.

 

“The circadian system is negatively impacted by drugs of addiction and it doesn’t necessarily recover,” Rawashdeh said.

 

“We also know that the success of rehabilitation and prevention of relapse is linked to the degree of circadian disturbance in addicts.”

 

In order to isolate the relationship between addictions and circadian rhythms, the research team conducted their study on mice that had a small region in the brain that controls the body’s circadian clock removed.

 

“Metabolism and sleep cycles are all off kilter when someone is addicted, just like an animal whose master circadian clock has been removed,” Rawashdeh said.

 

When the circadian rhythm controller is separated from the other oscillators it controls – such as the methamphetamine-sensitive circadian oscillator (MASCO) – the individual feels as though they are in a constant state of jetlag, making normal functioning extremely difficult.

 

Throughout the study, however, the scientists discovered that having access to regular exercise and a controlled dose of methamphetamine helped to re-establish the circadian rhythms of the mice missing the circadian rhythm controller.

 

“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,” explained Rawashdeh.

 

The breakthrough of the study came when the researchers found that the new circadian rhythms they established persisted, even after removing the methamphetamine.

 

“We created a new homeostatic state,” he said. “By using the principles of learning and memory, we may have rewired the brain’s circuitry, activating a new clock — a form of plasticity — using the same stimulus that caused addiction in the first place, methamphetamine,” he said.

 

“This was necessary in order to transfer the euphoric and pleasurable characteristics associated with the drug over to a healthy stimulus — exercise.”

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