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Apr 28, 2014 12:45 AM EDT

Exercise May Help Reduce Methamphetamine Use

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Regular physical activity may help reduce methamphetamine use, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found that physical exercise may be a useful technique to reduce methamphetamine use. 

For the study, researchers used a preclinical model in which male rats are trained to press a lever to obtain intravenous infusions of methamphetamine. They found that giving the rats running wheel access in the 22 hours prior to the test session is sufficient to significantly reduce the amount of methamphetamine self-administered. Thus, this study shows that it may not require 6 weeks of chronic activity to produce a beneficial effect on drug use.

Previous work had shown that an extended interval (6 weeks) of voluntary activity on a running wheel could reduce cocaine self-administration in laboratory rats.

Researchers said the finding has important implications for using exercise as an adjunct to human drug cessation therapy because an extended interval of continual physical activity may not be required; effects may be seen immediately.

An additional study presented by the team shows that rats' self-administration of the drug known as "Ecstasy" or "Molly" (±3,4-methylenedioxymethampetamine, MDMA) is also decreased in animals who have access to a wheel in their home cages.

"The abuse of amphetamine type psychomotor stimulants remains a critical legal and public health problem in the [United States], researchers said in a statement.

In California, 27 percent of substance abuse treatment admissions are for amphetamines; high treatment-admission rates for amphetamines are also reported for other Western States such as Idaho, Nevada and Arizona. A 2009 study by the RAND Corporation estimated the total US costs for methamphetamine at $23.4 billion.

The findings were presented at the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting on April 27, 2014.

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