Social support and interaction have long been known to be a significant factor in a variety of addiction recovery programs, as well as treatment approaches. A new study utilizing rats has found that social interaction has an extreme effect on addiction-related behaviors. The research suggests that social interaction creates specific changes within the brain that control cravings and relapse from drugs or alcohol.
Rats Choose Friends Over Drugs
Previous research had found that isolation would lead the rats to self-administer drugs and that social interaction was protective against drug use; however, no previous studies had provided a choice to the animals of one or the other. In the study led by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), researchers found that the rats that had previously used substances compulsively, such as heroin, repetitively chose social interaction instead of self-administration of the substances. The rats that used substances compulsively are comparable to humans with substance use disorders involving drugs or alcohol. All of the rats in the study ended up choosing contact with their peers over access to drugs, even when housed with their peers on a continuous basis. Furthermore, during times of prolonged abstinence from the substances, the rats were significantly less vulnerable to relapse, and the rats observed would resume using substances when access to their peers was delayed.
Protective Effects of Social Interaction
Feelings of connectedness and social interaction can protect some people against developing substance use disorders. Furthermore, social connectedness can also aid people in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol. Social contact with family members and loved ones are protective factors to the risk of substance use disorders. Therefore, protection or recovery from addiction can be aided simply by maintaining social interaction with others.
Social interaction is an essential part of well-being, no matter who you are. Having social connectedness can protect against addiction, as well as aid in recovery from addiction. At Fort Worth Recovery, we understand that recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol is a personal and challenging road to travel. We seek to inspire clients to face their challenges, accept their present state, and foster hope for their future.