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NIDA

Study Shows Impact of Social Interactions on Addictive Behavior

NIDA's Dr. Marco Venniro discusses his new study which finds that social interactions can have a profound effect on behaviors related to addiction, and on the brain’s response to drug-associated cues.

Transcript

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Dr. Marco Venniro: I scientifically particularly want to understand the neurobiology underlying this strong preference for social
interaction over-- over a drug.

I think that this is the key that we are missing here.

Why an animal that is taking a drug for several weeks, immediately gives up on drug self-administration because of the presence of--of a social interaction.

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The key findings of this particular research were-- First, we are able to decrease animal drug self-administration by using alternative non-drug rewards, in this case, social
interaction.

Second, even when we selected a subpopulation of compulsive rat users, the animal, when they had the opportunity to choose between the drug and social interaction, they went directly for social interaction.

And third, we-- we started to-- to study the mechanisms underlying-- the neurobiology underlying this form-- this form of choice and what we found as a third finding that
this social interaction prevented incubation of drug craving.

Incubation refers to the intensification of drug seeking over time.

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We hope that our paper will convince people to adopt these social factors in their model or even better replicate our findings because we think that it's extremely important that we take care of not just the drug self-administration moment, but the entire environment because we can not translate 1 to 1 what we find in the laboratory to human research.

So we need to fill this gap in this translational problem and potentially this social-- this social factor will help people to better understand what is happening in the human population.

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This page was last updated October 2018