WP4 - Target-OXY

Risk factors for alcohol craving and relapse: effect of momentary psychological stress, motor activity, neuronal cue-reactivity and oxytocin

More than 2 billion people worldwide drink regularly alcohol (WHO Status Report, 2018). Regular alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol dependence, which is characterized by several relapses. In various studies, already approved pharmacological treatments for relapse prevention are only slightly effective. The development of new, effective treatment approaches is needed due to the current lack of effective treatment approaches. One possible starting point for the development of drugs for relapse prevention is the oxytocin system. The hormone oxytocin plays a particularly important role in binding behavior, such as maternal care or couple bonding. Various studies have shown that oxytocin can also relieve anxiety, reduce stress symptoms and have a positive effect on social behavior. Some recent studies found evidence that the oxytocin system is impaired in mental disorders with social deficits. For example, an impairment in the oxytocin system was observed in alcohol dependence. In the animal model, as well as in our pilot study, it was shown that oxytocin positively affects addictive behavior in animals and humans. In the Target-OXY project, measurements will be taken in everyday life, whereby the movement over six weeks is recorded with a movement sensor, as well as the current mental state and craving. On the other hand, the neuronal response to alcohol stimuli will be investigated in functional magnetic resonance imaging. It will be tested whether oxytocin has positive effects on the neuronal processing of alcohol stimuli in alcohol-dependent patients. The collected data will be used to develop a mathematical model to calculate the probability of relapse and potential risk situations for relapses. The Target-OXY project thus not only enables the investigation of the effect of oxytocin in the neuronal processing of alcohol stimuli, but also the development of an electronic (individual) intervention.

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