Home > Therapeutic efficacy of environmental enrichment for substance use disorders.

Galaj, Ewa and Barrera, Eddy D and Ranaldi, Robert (2020) Therapeutic efficacy of environmental enrichment for substance use disorders. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 188, 172829. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2019.172829.

External website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC69447...

Addiction to drug and alcohol is regarded as a major health problem worldwide for which available treatments show limited effectiveness. The biggest challenge remains to enhance the capacities of interventions to reduce craving, prevent relapse and promote long-term recovery. New strategies to meet these challenges are being explored. Findings from preclinical work suggest that environmental enrichment (EE) holds therapeutic potential for the treatment of substance use disorders, as demonstrated in a number of animal models of drug abuse. The EE intervention introduced after drug exposure leads to attenuation of compulsive drug taking, attenuation of the rewarding (and reinforcing) effects of drugs, reductions in control of behavior by drug cues, and, very importantly, relapse prevention. Clinical work also suggests that multidimensional EE interventions (involving physical activity, social interaction, vocational training, recreational and community involvement) might produce similar therapeutic effects, if implemented continuously and rigorously. In this review we survey preclinical and clinical studies assessing the efficacy of EE as a behavioral intervention for substance use disorders and address related challenges. We also review work providing empirical evidence for EE-induced neuroplasticity within the mesocorticolimbic system that is believed to contribute to the seemingly therapeutic effects of EE on drug and alcohol-related behaviors.

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