Objective: Environmental drug-related cues have been implicated as a cause of illicit heroin use during methadone maintenance treatment of heroin dependence. The authors sought to identify the functional neuroanatomy of the brain response to visual heroin-related stimuli in methadone maintenance patients. Method: Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to compare brain responses to heroin-related stimuli and matched neutral stimuli in 25 patients in methadone maintenance treatment. Patients were studied before and after administration of their regular daily methadone dose. Results: The heightened responses to heroin-related stimuli in the insula, amygdala, and hippocampal complex, but not the orbitofrontal and ventral anterior cingulate cortices, were acutely reduced after administration of the daily methadone dose. Conclusions: The medial prefrontal cortex and the extended limbic system in methadone maintenance patients with a history of heroin dependence remains responsive to salient drug cues, which suggests a continued vulnerability to relapse. Vulnerability may be highest at the end of the 24-hour interdose interval.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health