Blood pressure medication could be the key for locking away addiction, according to a study published in Molecular Psychiatry.
Those recovering from addictions may be more likely to give in to temptation during particular circumstances and in particular surroundings that they associate with taking drugs.
The researchers at the University of Texas, wanted to create scenarios that lab rats would associate with a dose of alcohol or cocaine.
Blood Pressure Pills to Treat Addiction
This was performed by conditioning the rats to associate the dosage with either a white or black room, they then always chose the colour room associated with their addicted substance.
The researchers wanted to see if they could stop this behaviour by giving the rats a drug called isradipine, which is conventionally prescribed to lower blood pressure, with other studies having indicated that they also make the brain more mouldable and able to be rewired.
Immediately after taking the isradipine, the rats made the same conditioned choice to return to the room associated with the drug. However, within a matter of days they no longer behaved in a way that indicated a strong preference to either room.
In a press release Hitoshi Morikawa, a neuroscience professor at the University of Texas and the author of the study said: “The isradipine erased memories that led them to associate a certain room with cocaine or alcohol.”
The professor also explained how particularly useful this could be for human implications. He said: “Addicts show up to the rehab centre already addicted. Many addicts want to quit, but their brains are already conditioned. This drug might help the addicted brain to become de-addicted.”
Morikawa furthered that because isradipine is already labelled as safe for human use by the U.S. regulatory body, the Food and Drug Association, clinical trials could potentially be carried out much sooner than it would if it was a non-approved drug.
One challenge with using the medication for this particular application is that it lowers blood pressure, so it might be necessary to pair it with other treatments that prevent blood pressure from falling too low.
The main aim of continued research will most likely be to use the drug in a manner that is more beneficial than current treatments for addiction, of course it will have to proven that it is just as effective when used with humans and not just rats.
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