Role of Serotonin in Cue Exposure-Induced Craving in an Inpatient Sample of Egyptian Addicts

Haroun El Rasheed A., El Sayed N., Reda M, Hussein H.and Abou Ghalia A. ; Abou Ghalia, Azza 


Craving is one of the phenomena that attracted the attention of all researchers working in the field of substance use disorder due to its impact on abstinence and recovery. In this study we examined whether plasma level of (serotonin) 5-HT was altered during substance abuse and whether this measure would be related to craving. We also explored whether alterations in 5- HT activity differ between types of cue exposure (auditory and visual) in substance dependent patients during craving. Plasma measurements of 5-HT and assessments of craving were performed longitudinally in 10 Egyptian opium-dependent patients who were hospitalized for detoxification, at baseline, after answering craving questionnaire assessing the different craving inducing situations; and after exposing them to a video that is full of cues. These measures were compared with 5-HT levels obtained from equal number of matched controls. Baseline serotonin level for these patients had a mean of 39.31(± 49.23), which is highly significantly (P<0.01) lower than that for the healthy controls who had a mean of 194.1 (±10.65) with a significantly (P<0.05) sharp rise after completing the craving questionnaire to reach a mean of 113.85 (± 144.49). However, after watching a craving inducing film it reached a mean of 64.15 (± 80.15), yet this rise was not significantly different from baseline (P>0.05). Using student ttest for comparing those taking heroin intravenous to those using other modes of opium administration, it was found that there is a highly significant difference on comparing the serotonin levels after applying the questionnaire (P=0.003).It can be concluded that craving can be induced by auditory as well as visual cues; both are associated with changes in serotonin levels which is more evident with auditory cues. This proved that craving has biological basis: more studies are needed to clarify the picture as regards the different neurotransmitters involved and the role of pharmacotherapy in controlling these phenomena.

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Issue Date 2006
Journal Current Psychiatry 

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