Cessation of drug use often coincides with increased food consumption and weight gain in recovering addicts. However, it is not known whether this phenomenon (particularly the weight gain) is uniquely human, or whether it represents a consequence of drug cessation common across species. To address this issue, rats (n = 10/group) were given systemic injections of D-amphetamine (3 mg/kg) or an equal volume of saline vehicle for 9 consecutive days. Beginning 2 days after the final injection, rats were given free access to a highly palatable food mixture (consisting of sugar and butter) along with their standard chow diet, and food consumption and body weight were measured every 48 h for 30 days. Consistent with clinical observations, amphetamine-treated rats showed a greater increase in body weight over the course of the 30 days relative to vehicle-treated rats. Surprisingly, there was no difference in highly palatable food consumption between amphetamine- and vehicle-treated groups, but the amphetamine-treated group consumed significantly more standard chow than the control group. The finding that a history of chronic amphetamine exposure increases food consumption is consistent with previous work in humans showing that withdrawal from drugs of abuse is associated with overeating and weight gain. The current findings may reflect amphetamine-induced sensitization of mechanisms involved in reward motivation, suggesting that weight gain following drug cessation in humans could be due to similar mechanisms.
Keywords: Addiction; Amphetamine; Eating; Sensitization.
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