There are many factors that contribute to the development of an addiction and there are many ways to combat it. One primary means of managing addiction is identifying triggers which are people, places and things that remind the user of his or her experience with alcohol and drug abuse. These cues can be incredibly powerful in luring addicts and alcoholics to drink and use again as they cause cravings for the substance of choice. However, a recent study showed that a blood pressure medication might be beneficial in curbing cravings for drugs and alcohol.
This study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, was conducted by a group of researchers from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. Using rats as test subjects, researchers found isradipine, a blood pressure medication, may help erase unconscious triggers for addictive behavior. The study was supported by the National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Both of these organizations are part of the National Institutes of Health.
Prior to the 1970s, many researchers believed that alcohol and drug addiction was simply a condition consisting of physical cravings that were capable of being overcome by sheer willpower alone. Addiction was later declared by the American Psychiatric Association as a disease, proving to be a much more complex condition than it was originally perceived. There are numerous biological, psychology and social factors that contribute to its development.
For the study, rats were trained to associate either a black or white room with cocaine or alcohol. After the rats grew dependent on these substances, they began to choose the door associated with their preferred substance. Immediately after the rats were given isradipine, they did not show any change in drug preference. However, in the following days, the rats demonstrated a lessened inclination to go into either room. Hitoshi Morikawa, an associate neuroscience professor at UT Austin and study author said in a press release, “The isradipine erased memories that led them to associate a certain room with cocaine or alcohol.” This result did not occur in the untreated group of rats.
Professor Morikawa added, “Addicts show up to the rehab center already addicted. Many addicts want to quit, but their brains are already conditioned. This drug might help the addicted brain become de-addicted.”
Isradipine is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human use in treating high blood pressure. The results of this study show that this medication could be potentially effective in eliminating memories associated with alcohol and drug addiction. Further research on its effects on humans must be conducted before steps are taken to implement isradipine for addiction treatment. Isradipine lowers high blood pressure by blocking the channels that transfer calcium to the blood vessels and heart. Researchers in this study suggest that blocking these channels could have likely rewired the circuits that trigger memories associated with addiction.
Experimental treatment methods like isradipine could change the way clinicians treat addiction. Those in need of immediate addiction treatment can seek out facilities that get to the heart of the problem.
Sovereign Health Group offers a number of inpatient and outpatient programs across the nation for patients who are struggling with addiction, mental health disorders and dual diagnosis conditions. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction and is in need of treatment, please do not hesitate to call. You may reach us at 888-530-4614. Our admissions and treatment specialists can assist you in finding the most effective means of treatment.
Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer