Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Research Supports the Need for Gender-Specific Addiction Treatment

Scientist with lab mice
The biological effects of hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle have been widely studied. Researchers have found that the normal variations in estrogen and progesterone influence a variety of processes within the body including water retention, sleep patterns and more.

Recently, scientists also explored the impact that estrogen plays in the role of addiction. A team of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at the Manhattan-based Mount Sinai Hospital observed the brain chemistry of male and female mice to understand how cocaine influences the brain’s reward pathway.

They found that estrogen amplified the pleasurable effects of the drug among the female mice – making it more habit forming and harder to quit.

While the exact reason is still not yet known, the brains of female mice released more dopamine and for longer periods of time when higher levels of estrogen were also present in their body.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Erin Calipari, stated, “When the hormone levels [of female mice] were low they looked a lot like the male subjects,” she said. “When estrogen levels were really high, the rewarding effects of cocaine were greatly enhanced.”

These findings help to explain, in part, that while cocaine addiction is more prevalent among men, women often find it harder to quit and require a more comprehensive approach to recovery.

“Addiction is really a multifaceted disorder,” Calipari said. “There are rewarding effects of the drug, but there’s a lot of other things that happen, too. Humans associate particular environments with the drug experience. These associations are really strong and if the relapse process is driven by environmental cues, we have to understand how to treat that. It may not be as easy as a pharmacological intervention.”

Findings from this study also found a distinct difference among the male and female mice in terms of the environmental influence. In sum, the female mice strongly correlated the environment in which cocaine was distributed and linked it with the pleasurable effects of the drug.

This study is an important step towards the development of more targeted and effective treatments designed to help address the unique needs of women in recovery. At Rising Roads Recovery, we hope that addiction researchers continue to invest in more gender-specific studies to advance the community as a whole.

Women’s Only Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Rising Roads Recovery is a completely gender specific treatment center. Our mission is to provide a program where this is not only possible but is probable. We are a place where every woman can find the path to her own happy destiny. Let the road rise up to meet you and continue on a healing path. Reach out today by calling us at (866) 746-1558.  

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