Stress hormone cuts heroin craving

London, July 29 (IANS) The stress hormone is bad as it will elevate your anxiety level but scientists have found that cortisol can reduce heroine craving in drug addicts.

In the study by University of Basel in Switzerland, 29 heroine addicts were given a cortisol tablet or placebo before receiving a dose of heroin.

Administering cortisol to the addicts resulted in a decrease in cravings by an average of 25 percent when compared to placebo.

This decrease was seen in patients who were dependent on a relatively low dose of heroin but not in highly-dependent patients.

“We wanted to examine whether cortisol can help patients reduce their heroin dosage or remain abstinent from heroin for longer,” said Marc Walter, chief physician at the Psychiatric University Clinics (UPK) in Basel and one of the author of the study.

Heroin is a drug with an extremely high dependency potential that stimulates severe cravings in addicts.

In past studies, the researchers in Basel discovered that cortisol diminishes the ability to retrieve memories.

The intake of the hormone reduced the brain’s ability to remember.

This can be used, for example, to relieve symptoms in patients suffering from anxiety disorders by inhibiting the patients’ ability to recall anxious episodes.

The researchers then hypothesised that cortisol also has an inhibitory effect on addiction-related memory and thus on the craving for the addictive substance.

Whether the inhibitory effect of cortisol on the craving for heroin will also affect addiction-related behaviours of patients in their day-to-day lives is still unclear, said the paper appeared in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

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