Just Say No by Working Out More?

Exercise may reduce craving for drugs, according to study

(RxWiki News) A $15.7 million award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is allowing researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center to find if consistent exercise will help people abstain from stimulant abuse.

Previous studies have shown that exercise leads to improvements in brain function similar to those seen in recovered drug addicts.

More than 300 recovering addicts from nationwide clinics are taking part in the second wave of the Stimulant Reduction Intervention using Dosed Exercise (STRIDE) and have been randomized into two groups. One group receives usual care – 21 to 30 days of residential treatment followed by outpatient treatment. Additionally this group receives three supervised sessions of vigorous treadmill exercise per week for three months. The second group receives usual care plus time spent getting information on health-related matters.

Exercise will continue for six more months after the initial three-month period ends. Subjects will be monitored through heart rate monitors and step counters.

To monitor drug abstinence, researchers will use urine tests.

"If exercise is a successful treatment, then it could drastically change addiction interventions," said Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and principal investigator of the national study. "Exercise is relatively inexpensive and can be done by an individual without a huge therapeutic setting – people could start running on the streets."

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Review Date: 
December 22, 2010