Influence of stress on substance use: Age-associated variability in molecular and behavioral outcomes

Christina Elizabeth D'Arcy, University of Texas at El Paso


Stress introduces a number of neurological and neurohormonal changes in response to a number of stimuli, and can influence our relationship to rewarding experiences. As such, it holds the potential of promoting vulnerability to addiction to substances such as methamphetamine. While methamphetamine use and abuse has been steadily declining, the fact remains that it and closely related drugs are used in the treatment of conditions such as narcolepsy, weight loss, and attention deficit disorder. In an effort to develop better patient assessment metrics to aid the physician in deciding a course of treatment, we ask the following questions: Do chronic or acute stresses increase vulnerability to addiction? Does the age at which stress is experienced contribute to risk? Using a restraint paradigm for stress in a rodent model we answer this question through behavioral self-administration of methamphetamine and attempt to deconstruct neurological mechanisms that may account for stress-attributable differences in responding to drug. The answer: Yes, chronic predictable emotional stress does increase methamphetamine escalation if the stress is experienced during adulthood, but adolescent stress does not result in either vulnerability to nor protection from addiction.

Subject Area

Biology|Neurosciences|Behavioral psychology

Recommended Citation

D'Arcy, Christina Elizabeth, "Influence of stress on substance use: Age-associated variability in molecular and behavioral outcomes" (2015). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3724913.