Study: Can Exercise Help Prevent Cocaine Relapse?

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Unfortunately, relapse is a common part of recovery from cocaine use disorder – but a little exercise may help, according to researchers from the University of Buffalo.

“Cocaine addiction is often characterized by cycles of recovery and relapse, with stress and negative emotions, often caused by withdrawal itself, among the major causes of relapse,” Thanos, senior research scientist in the UB Research Institute on Addictions and the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, said in a statement.

Recent findings from a mice study reveal that running on a treadmill for one hour, five days a week, can result in “memory clearance,” which helps those with substance use disorders forget their cravings. Here’s why it works: Regular aerobic exercise (or cardio) alters the brain’s mesolimbic dopamine pathway, which is linked to the rewarding properties of drugs like cocaine, say researchers.  This type of exercise also helps decrease stress and less stress equals fewer cravings.

“Our results suggest that regular aerobic exercise could be a useful strategy for relapse prevention, as part of a comprehensive treatment program for recovering cocaine abusers,” Thanos said. “Further research is necessary to see if these results also hold true for other addictive drugs.”

Treating Cocaine Addiction
The typical time period for cocaine addiction treatment is from 3 to 12 months, depending on a persons individual needs. Following medical detox, which lasts two to seven days, individuals may received the following types of treatment:

  • Residential (inpatient) rehab, which lasts 28 days or longer.
  • Partial hospitalization or day treatment, which lasts one to four weeks.
  • Intensive outpatient (IOP), during which clients live at their own residence or in a sober living home.
  • Ongoing testing, which is often performed at all levels of care.

Help for Cocaine Abuse
If you or a loved one suffers from a cocaine use disorder, NorthStar Transitions can help! To learn more about our cocaine addiction treatment, call today: 303-558-6400.