Withdrawing 'cold turkey' from drugs may trigger mental decline


A new study says that quitting drugs without treatment can result in mental decline. The animal-based study was conducted at the Georgetown University Medical Center and researchers say that their observations managing withdrawal found that healthier mental states were had when management was used over a "cold turkey" method.

The study, published in the latest issue of Brain, Behavior and Immunity was also presented at Neuroscience 2013.

"Over time, drug-abusing individuals often develop mental disorders," said Italo Mocchetti, PhD, a professor of neuroscience and lead researcher for the study. "It’s been thought that drug abuse itself contributes to mental decline, but our findings suggest that ‘quitting cold turkey’ can also lead to damage."

The study found that animals addicted to morphine who were withdrawn slowly had increased CCL5 proteins (which are "protective") and decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines. Animals that were not treated for slow withdrawal had the opposite; higher cytokines and lower CCL5.

“From these findings, it appears that morphine withdrawal may be a causative factor that leads to mental decline, presenting an important avenue for research in how we can better help people who are trying to quit using drugs,” concludes Mocchetti.


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