Cutting Edge CRI-Help Study Focuses on Meth, Exercise and Dopamine Recovery

By John Lavitt 05/04/15

Dr. Edythe London revealed the positive effects of exercise in recovery from meth dependency.

Dr. Edythe London
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On April 30, Dr. Edythe London reported on the favorable results of a cutting edge study at the CRI-Help Treatment Center. The study focused on the positive effects of physical exercise in the recovery process from meth dependence. As a professor of addiction studies, as well as the director of the UCLA Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology, London is on the forefront of studying the neurobiology of substance abuse and its effects on the complex process of recovery.

In introductory remarks, Marcus Sola, the chairman of CRI-Help’s Board of Directors, explained that the innovative work with UCLA reflects the 44-year history and mission of CRI-Help. Sola believes such integrative studies have been part of the macrocosm of treatment efforts from the beginning. “Collaboration between people in early recovery and the medical community goes back to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous when Bill Wilson was corresponding with Carl Jung,” he said.

Working with resident patients at CRI-Help, London’s latest study shows how physical exercise can greatly benefit the regeneration of dopamine receptors in the brain. In an exclusive interview with The Fix, she described both the relationship with CRI-Help while detailing the success of the project.

“Our UCLA group is very happy to collaborate with CRI-Help to find new non-pharmacological approaches to aid in the recovery from stimulants," London said. "Our current study uses physical exercise, a program of aerobic and weight training designed specifically for each individual. We have seen substantial improvement in dopamine receptors, the neural markers in the brain.”

Working in conjunction with Dr. Richard Rawson, the co-director of the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs at the Jane & Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, London’s study helps to demonstrate that regular exercise, when added to a residential treatment program, facilitates dopamine receptor activity and regeneration in early recovery. Such regeneration is the key to helping patients overcome the doldrums caused by a lack of working dopamine interactions.

Although far from a cure to the conundrum that is the disease of addiction, the revelation that physical exercise can boost dopamine receptivity and perhaps even the neural regeneration of dopamine receptors is truly an important breakthrough.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.