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Subst Use Misuse. 2012 May;47(6):631-9. doi: 10.3109/10826084.2011.646381. Epub 2012 Feb 13.

Cue-elicited craving in heroin addicts at different abstinent time: an fMRI pilot study.

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1
Department of Radiology, Longgang Central Hospital, Shenzhen, China.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We evaluated the effect of short-term and long-term heroin abstinence on brain responses to heroin-related cues using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

METHODS:

Eighteen male heroin addicts following short-term abstinence and 19 male heroin addicts following long-term abstinence underwent fMRI scanning while viewing heroin-related and neutral images. Cue-elicited craving and withdrawal symptoms in the subjects were measured.

RESULTS:

Following short-term abstinence, greater activation was found in response to heroin cues compared to neutral cues in bilateral temporal, occipital, posterior cingulate, anterior cingulate, thalamus, cerebellum, and left hippocampus. In contrast, activations in bilateral temporal and occipital and deactivations in bilateral frontal, bilateral parietal, left posterior cingulate, insula, thalamus, dorsal striatum, and bilateral cerebellum were observed following long-term abstinence. Direct comparisons between conditions showed greater brain reactivity in response to smoking cues following short-term abstinence. In addition, short-term abstinence had more serious withdrawal symptoms than the long-term.

CONCLUSION:

The present findings indicate that compared to short-term, long-term abstinence manifests less serious withdrawal symptoms and significantly decreases neural responses to heroin-related cues in brain regions subserving visual sensory processing, attention, memory, and action planning. These findings suggest that long-term abstinence can decrease the salience of conditioned cues, thereby reducing the risk of relapses. The study's limitations are noted.

PMID:
22329835
PMCID:
PMC3359800
DOI:
10.3109/10826084.2011.646381
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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