Exercise May Make it Harder to Break an Addiction, Animal Study Suggests

Exercise may make it more difficult to break an addiction in some cases, a study of cocaine-addicted mice suggests.

The study included male mice, some of whom had running wheels in their cages. After 30 days, the mice were placed in small chambers, and given liquid cocaine.

All of the mice showed a preference for the place within their chamber where they received cocaine, The New York Times reports. Some of the animals that had not previously had running wheels were given them, while the ones who already had the wheels were allowed to continue using them.

The researchers stopped giving the mice cocaine, and watched how long it took them to stop returning to the spot where they had received the cocaine, a sign thought to indicate that an animal has overcome its addiction.

The mice that had started the study as non-exercisers, and only started running after they became addicted, stopped going to their preferred spot quickly and easily. The mice that had been running since the beginning of the study took a longer time to stop returning to that spot, and many did not stop at all.

Researcher Justin S. Rhodes of the University of Illinois said the study should not discourage people from exercising if they are combating addiction. He pointed out there are a number of other studies that have shown exercise appears to stimulate reward centers in the brain that might substitute for drug cravings.

The study appears in The European Journal of Neuroscience.

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    Ben House

    April 17, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    The report is incomplete, did the mice going back to the site still have the wheel to run or was the running wheel removed? Habit is a component of addiction, see W. Glasser on Positive Addictions, 1977(?). Since running seems to stimulate pleasure areas are these mice seeing the runner’s high or the cocaine?

    To the JT staff, nice you include a broad range or stuff, keeps our critical thinking working.

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    John French

    April 16, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    And there will be another study next week stating the exact opposite- I have a problem declaring a finding from these small vague studies.

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    April 12, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    I will stay on this site to get all the free assistance that I can go back to this site and talk to people to see what they went though to quit.

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