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Neuropsychopharmacology. 2008 Mar;33(4):796-805. Epub 2007 Jun 13.

Enhanced sensitivity to stress and drug/alcohol craving in abstinent cocaine-dependent individuals compared to social drinkers.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, Substance Abuse Center, Connecticut Mental Health Center, New Haven, CT 06519, USA. helen.fox@yale.edu

Abstract

Chronic exposure to cocaine is associated with neuroadaptions in stress and reward circuits that may increase susceptibility to relapse. We examined whether there are alterations in stress response and craving in abstinent cocaine-dependent individuals compared with a demographically matched group of non-addicted socially drinking community controls. Forty treatment-engaged abstinent cocaine patients (17F/23M) and 40 controls (19F/21M) were exposed to a brief 5 min guided imagery of individually calibrated stressful situations, personal drug/alcohol-related situation and a neutral-relaxing situation, one imagery per session, presented in random order. Craving, anxiety, emotion rating scales, and physiological measures were assessed. Cocaine patients reported significantly higher and more persistent stress- and cue-induced drug/alcohol craving, negative emotions, and physiological responses compared with social drinkers. In cocaine patients, stress- and cue-induced drug craving was accompanied by increased anger, fear, sadness, heart rate, and SBP. Controls reported minimal stress-induced craving and only increases in anxiety and SBP during stress exposure. Cue-induced alcohol craving was accompanied only by an increase in relaxed state. Females reported increased stress-induced anxiety and sadness compared with males, while males were emotionally and physiologically more reactive in the cue condition. These findings are the first to document functional alterations in stress- and reward-related affect and physiology in recently abstinent cocaine patients that is marked by an enhanced sensitivity to stress- and drug-related cue exposure. These data suggest that recovery from chronic cocaine abuse could be hampered by a hyper-responsive stress- and drug-craving state that increases cocaine relapse susceptibility.

PMID:
17568398
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2746372
Free PMC Article

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