Evaluating Exercise as a Therapeutic Intervention for Methamphetamine Addiction-Like Behavior

Brain Plast. 2015 Oct 9;1(1):63-81. doi: 10.3233/BPL-150007.


The need for effective treatments for addiction and dependence to the illicit stimulant methamphetamine in primary care settings is increasing, yet no effective medications have been FDA approved to reduce dependence [1]. This is partially attributed to the complex and dynamic neurobiology underlying the various stages of addiction [2]. Therapeutic strategies to treat methamphetamine addiction, particularly the relapse stage of addiction, could revolutionize methamphetamine addiction treatment. In this context, preclinical studies demonstrate that voluntary exercise (sustained physical activity) could be used as an intervention to reduce methamphetamine addiction. Therefore, it appears that methamphetamine disrupts normal functioning in the brain and this disruption is prevented or reduced by engaging in exercise. This review discusses animal models of methamphetamine addiction and sustained physical activity and the interactions between exercise and methamphetamine behaviors. The review highlights how methamphetamine and exercise affect neuronal plasticity and neurotoxicity in the adult mammalian striatum, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex, and presents the emerging mechanisms of exercise in attenuating intake and in preventing relapse to methamphetamine seeking in preclinical models of methamphetamine addiction.

Keywords: Exercise; addiction; animal models; methamphetamine; neurogenesis; neuronal plasticity; neurotoxicity syndromes; relapse; reward.

Publication types

  • Review