In animal study, 'cold turkey' withdrawal from drugs triggers mental decline

Can quitting drugs without treatment trigger a decline in mental health? That appears to be the case in an animal model of morphine addiction. Georgetown University Medical Center researchers say their observations suggest that managing morphine withdrawal could promote a healthier mental state in people.

"Over time, drug-abusing individuals often develop ," says Italo Mocchetti, PhD, a professor of neuroscience. "It's been thought that drug abuse itself contributes to , but our findings suggest that 'quitting cold turkey' can also lead to damage."

In the study published in the November issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity and presented at Neuroscience 2013, Mocchetti and his research colleagues treated the animals with morphine, or allowed them to undergo withdrawal by stopping the treatment. Then, they measured pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can promote damage and cell death, and the protein CCL5, which has various protective effects in the brain.

"Interestingly, we found that treating the addicted animals with morphine both increased the protective CCL5 protein while decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines, suggesting a beneficial effect," Mocchetti explains. The animals that weren't treated during withdrawal had the opposite results—decreased CCL5 and increased levels of the damaging cytokines.

"From these findings, it appears that morphine withdrawal may be a causative factor that leads to mental decline, presenting an important avenue for research in how we can better help people who are trying to quit using drugs," concludes Mocchetti.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers reveal potential cause of HIV-associated dementia

Jul 10, 2012

Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center appear to have solved the mystery of why some patients infected with HIV, who are using antiretroviral therapy and show no signs of AIDS, develop serious depression as well ...

Codeine could increase users' sensitivity to pain

Sep 12, 2013

Using large and frequent doses of the pain-killer codeine may actually produce heightened sensitivity to pain, without the same level of relief offered by morphine, according to new research from the University of Adelaide.

Missing enzyme linked to drug addiction

Jun 17, 2013

A missing brain enzyme increases concentrations of a protein related to pain-killer addiction, according to an animal study. The results will be presented Monday at The Endocrine Society's 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Recommended for you

Team finds an off switch for pain

1 hour ago

In research published in the medical journal Brain, Saint Louis University researcher Daniela Salvemini, Ph.D. and colleagues within SLU, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other academic institutions have d ...

Brain researchers pinpoint gateway to human memory

3 hours ago

An international team led by researchers of the University of Magdeburg and the DZNE has successfully determined the location, where memories are generated with a level of precision never achieved before. ...

How various brain areas interact in decisions

6 hours ago

Our decisions can be pictured in the brain. Scientists at the University of Zurich were able to show in a recent study which areas are most active in decision making. Often the so-called prefrontal cortex ...

Researchers identify receptors activated by odors

8 hours ago

A group of physiologists led by University of Kentucky's Tim McClintock have identified the receptors activated by two odors using a new method that tracks responses to smells in live mice.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.