How exercise could help fight drug addiction

The siren call of addictive drugs can be hard to resist, and returning to the environment where drugs were previously taken can make resistance that much harder. However, addicts who exercise appear to be less vulnerable to the impact of these environmental cues. Now, research with mice suggests that exercise might strengthen a drug user’s resolve by altering the production of peptides in the brain, according to a study in the journal ACS Omega.

Re-exposure to drug-related cues, such as the location where drugs were taken, the people with whom they were taken or drug paraphernalia, can cause even recovered drug abusers to relapse. Prior studies have shown that exercise can reduce craving and relapse in addicts, as well as mice. Although the mechanism was unknown, exercise was thought to alter the learned association between drug-related cues and the rewarding sensations of taking a drug, possibly by changing the levels of peptides in the brain. Jonathan Sweedler, Justin Rhodes and colleagues at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign decided to explore this theory by quantifying these peptide changes in mice.

Full story at Science Daily

Exercise for mental health: How much is too much?

Many studies suggest that exercising can help people deal with mental health issues and boost well-being. A new observational study — the largest of its kind to date — confirms this, but it also extends a caution: too much exercise may negatively affect mental health.

Recently, researchers from Yale University in New Haven, CT, have analyzed the data of 1.2 million people all across the United States to gain a better understanding of how exercise affects a person’s mental health, and which types of excercise are best for a mood boost.

More importantly, they also asked how much exercise is too much.

Full story at Medical News Today

How exercise is key to successfully quitting smoking

New research has confirmed that exercise can help smokers finally kick the habit.

Experts at St George’s University of London, have examined the mechanism underlining exercise’s way of protecting the body against nicotine dependence and withdrawal.

The study reveals that even moderate intensity exercise markedly reduces the severity of nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Researchers also showed there was an increased activation of a type of receptor in the brain called α7 nicotinic acetylcholine, which is a target of nicotine.

Full story at Science Daily

Exercise Plus Counseling May Help Treat People Addicted to Methamphetamine: Study

People addicted to methamphetamine may be helped by exercise along with addiction counseling, a new small study suggests. The researchers report exercise increased the number of dopamine receptors in the brain, which can lower the desire for the drug.

Using methamphetamine causes a release of dopamine, a substance in the brain that provides sensations of pleasure and satisfaction. It also causes methamphetamine’s high. Repeated meth use causes the number of dopamine receptors to decrease.

As a person recovers from meth addiction, the number of dopamine receptors increase over time, but the recovery rate varies widely. Other studies have suggested chronic use of meth can cause long-term problems in brain function that can affect a person’s self-control and judgment, the researchers said.

Full story exercise and counseling to treat meth addiction at drugfree.org

University Addresses Substance Abuse Through Living and Learning Program

The University of Vermont is pioneering a program that integrates residential and curricular elements to address substance abuse, according to NBC News.

The program’s participants are 120 freshmen who live in a substance-free dorm. They receive a Fitbit, gym passes and nutrition coaching. They take a neuroscience course, “Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies.” The class begins with meditation, and covers research on the benefits of clean living, the article notes.

The program, called Wellness Environment, was founded by Dr. James Hudziak, Chief of Child Psychiatry at the College of Medicine and the University of Vermont Medical Center. The program has four pillars of health: exercise, nutrition, mindfulness and mentorship.

Full story of the living and learning program at drugfree.org