Chinese researchers discover new method to end drug addiction

Updated 2018-02-06 09:13:05

Chinese scientists have recently found a possible new method to limit or end drug addiction.

The study was published in BMC Biology after five years of research by a team headed by Professor Zheng Ping from the School of Basic Medical Sciences and Institutes of Brain Science at Shanghai's Fudan University, the China News Service reported on Monday.

While there are many ways to effectively detoxify drug addicts, when they encounter environmental conditions, their addiction memory is easily activated, which could cause re-addiction, the team said.

"More than 95 percent of drug users, after detoxification, would get re-addicted," Xia Yu, a Beijing-based psychologist who specializes in drug rehabilitation, told the Global Times on Monday.

The re-addiction could be affected by environmental conditions and personal psychology, which work together to trigger re-addiction, Xia said.

The research team put morphine-addicted mice in two boxes under different conditions, and would rapidly withdraw the morphine from the mice in one box, so the mice would display withdrawal symptoms, and would therefore link their state of withdrawal to the environment they were in, according to the report on the website of Fudan University.

When placing the mice in a certain environment, the environmental conditions could activate their drug withdrawal memory, so the mice would try to "escape" the environment, the report said.

The study found a neuromechanism on activating drug withdrawal memory on changing the environment, and interfering with the mechanism could reduce re-addiction caused by environmental factors.

"However, the experiments could have a good effect, but there is no guarantee they could work well in the real world, as drug withdrawal is a comprehensive and complex process," Xia said.

China has been exploring ways to contain drug addition in recent years.

The Rehabilitation Management Bureau of East China's Zhejiang Province announced that it has tested VR treatment on drug addicts 1,008 times. The bureau said the results have been encouraging, as the VR treatment has been "largely effective" in treating 98.1 percent of the medium-level methamphetamine addicts, and 67.3 percent of severe methamphetamine addicts also showed some improvement, news portal thepaper.cn reported in August 2017.

There were about 2.51 million drug users in the country in 2016, an increase of 6.8 percent from the previous year, a report released by the National Narcotics Control Commission in March 2017 said, according to a report from the Xinhua News Agency in March 2017.

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