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, 74 (5), 928-33

Sleep Disturbance as a Universal Risk Factor for Relapse in Addictions to Psychoactive Substances


Sleep Disturbance as a Universal Risk Factor for Relapse in Addictions to Psychoactive Substances

Kirk J Brower et al. Med Hypotheses.


Relapse to uncontrolled use of a psychoactive substance is arguably the single most defining characteristic of an addiction. Relapse following addiction treatment is very common with serious consequences to individuals, families, and the public system of care, making predictors of relapse a highly significant area of study. Before the turn of the century, most of the addiction treatment outcome literature focused on psychosocial predictors of relapse. More recently, investigating biological predictors of relapse specifically and treatment outcome broadly has gained momentum. This line of research has linked sleep disturbances to the risk of relapse among persons who are recovering from an alcohol addiction. Given common neurobiological and psychosocial processes in sleep and addictive behaviors, we hypothesize that the link between sleep disturbance and relapse risk observed among alcohol addiction generalizes to all other types of psychoactive substances. This hypothesis has the potential for helping develop more effective and targeted treatment approaches for persons with addiction. As initial support for the hypothesis, this paper reviews evidence on common neurobiological processes among various types of psychoactive substances that suggests sleep is a universal risk factor for relapse. A conceptual framework is also presented to articulate causal mechanisms. The paper concludes with implications for research and practice.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest Statement

None Declared

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