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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Oct 17;2018:5367864. doi: 10.1155/2018/5367864. eCollection 2018.

Acupuncture on the Stress-Related Drug Relapse to Seeking.

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Department of Acupoint, College of Korean Medicine, Dongguk University, Gyeonggi-do 10326, Republic of Korea.
Addiction Research Center and Department of Physiology, College of Korean Medicine, Daegu Haany University, Daegu 42158, Republic of Korea.
Addiction Research Center and Department of Secondary Special Education, Daegu Haany University, Daegu 42158, Republic of Korea.
Department of Anesthesiology, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston Salem, NC 27106, USA.


Drug addiction is a chronic relapsing disease, which causes serious social and economic problems. The most important trial for the successful treatment of drug addiction is to prevent the high rate of relapse to drug-seeking behaviors. Opponent process as a motivational theory with excessive drug seeking in the negative reinforcement of drug dependence reflects both loss of brain reward system and recruitment of brain stress system. The negative emotional state produced by brain stress system during drug withdrawal might contribute to the intense drug craving and drive drug-seeking behaviors via negative reinforcement mechanisms. Decrease in dopamine neurotransmission in the nucleus accumbens and recruitment of corticotropin-releasing factor in the extended amygdala are hypothesized to be implicated in mediating this motivated behavior. Also, a brain stress response system is hypothesized to increase drug craving and contribute to relapse to drug-seeking behavior during the preoccupation and anticipation stage of dependence caused by the exposure to stress characterized as the nonspecific responses to any demands on the body. Acupuncture has proven to be effective for reducing drug addiction and stress-related psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression. Furthermore, acupuncture has been shown to correct reversible brain malfunctions by regulating drug addiction and stress-related neurotransmitters. Accordingly, it seems reasonable to propose that acupuncture attenuates relapse to drug-seeking behavior through inhibition of stress response. In this review, a brief description of stress in relapse to drug-seeking behavior and the effects of acupuncture were presented.

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