Quitting drugs without treatment triggers a decline in mental health in an animal model of morphine addiction, researchers are reporting.
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 mental disorders," says Italo Mocchetti, PhD, a professor of neuroscience. "It's been thought that drug abuse itself contributes to mental decline, but our findings suggest that 'quitting cold turkey' can also lead to damage."
"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.