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Reducing the Side Effects of Opiate Withdrawal

Reducing the Side Effects of Opiate Withdrawal
(Credit: Simon Fraser University)

Researchers at Washington State University are working on new ways to help treat heroin and opiate addiction, currently a major health issue in the United States.

In their study published in Brain Research, they sought to determine if hyperbaric oxygen treatment would lessen the side effects suffered by people going through withdrawal.

To do that, the researchers injected mice with morphine twice a day for four days. On day five, the mice were split into three groups: one receiving a 30-minute treatment in the hyperbaric chamber, another 60 minutes and an untreated control group. The next step was to induce withdrawal by injecting the mice with naloxone.

The team compared the behavior of the three groups. They found that mice receiving hyperbaric treatment did much better than the others, exhibiting fewer withdrawal symptoms, such as jumping, forepaw tremor, wet-dog shakes, rearing and defecation. Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that treatment with pure oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber can suppress the physical signs of withdrawal in morphine-dependent mice.

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