Treatment Approaches for Interoceptive Dysfunctions in Drug Addiction.

Author: Paulus MP, Stewart JL, Haase L.
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego , La Jolla, CA , USA ; Psychiatry Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System , La Jolla, CA , USA.
Conference/Journal: Front Psychiatry.
Date published: 2013 Oct 18
Other: Volume ID: 4 , Pages: 137 , Word Count: 226

There is emerging evidence that individuals with drug addiction have dysfunctions in brain systems that are important for interoceptive processing, which include, among others, the insular and the anterior cingulate cortices. These individuals may not be expending sufficient neural resources to process perturbations of the interoceptive state but may exert over-activation of these systems when processing drug-related stimuli. As a consequence, insufficient detection and processing of interoceptive state changes may result in inadequate anticipation and preparation to adapt to environmental challenges, e.g., adapt to abstinence in the presence of withdrawal symptoms. Here, we integrate interoceptive dysfunction in drug-addicted individuals, with the neural basis for meditation and exercise to develop a heuristic to target the interoceptive system as potential treatments for drug addiction. First, it is suggested that mindfulness-based approaches can modulate both interoceptive function and insular activation patterns. Second, there is an emerging literature showing that the regulation of physical exercise in the brain involves the insula and anterior cingulate cortex and that intense physical exercise is associated with a insula changes that may provide a window to attenuate the increased interoceptive response to drug-related stimuli. It is concluded that the conceptual framework of interoceptive dysfunctions in drug addiction and the experimental findings in meditation and exercise provide a useful approach to develop new interventions for drug addiction.
addiction, exercise, insula, interoception, meditation

PMID: 24151471