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Thursday, November 10, 2022 • Linsey Retcofsky :

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A neuroscience researcher at the University of Texas at Arlington is conducting a comparative study of how men and women respond to opiate withdrawal.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded Linda Perrotti, professor of psychology, a three-year grant worth nearly $454,000 to support her research on differences in somatic, emotional, and motivational responses between men and women after discontinuing morphine use. The study will address a systemic deficiency of data related to women’s experiences of drug use, addiction and recovery.

“In biomedical science, women and female cell lines have been left out,” Perrotti said. “In drug use and addiction research, all abstinence scales, scores, and models have been based on data obtained from male research subjects.”

Perrotti’s study will measure somatic responses such as tremors and nausea, emotional responses (including stress, anxiety and depression) and motivational responses, such as how an individual reacts when exposed to an environment that triggers a desire to use drugs.

His team will examine sex differences in the severity and timing of withdrawal, as well as collect data on how the female ovarian hormones, estrogen and progesterone, may mediate the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Perrotti emphasized the importance of tracking women’s withdrawal responses throughout the reproductive cycle. If providers are informed about the interaction between menstrual cycle phases and withdrawal symptoms, they can better treat recovery and prevent relapse, he said.

“It might be helpful to assess these factors when a woman comes into the clinic and is in the early stages of withdrawal,” Perrotti said. “Her somatic symptoms might be mild, but her motivational symptoms might be severe. For example, the provider may need to keep her away from environmental triggers that might put her in a tailspin to start using drugs again “.

Historically, data on drug use and addiction have been obtained from men, and then applied to women. That approach misses the big picture, Perrotti said.

“When you look at withdrawal, some scientists may argue that women don’t suffer as much,” he said. “A comparative statement like that just doesn’t work. If an individual is in pain, then they are in pain.”

Source: Examining Women’s Responses to Drug Use and Addiction – News Center

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