A commonly available drug used to treat high blood pressure can help reverse cocaine and alcohol addiction, according to a recently released research report in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.
The researchers at the University of Texas believe that isradipine, which they tested on rats, erases the unconscious triggers that underlie alcohol and cocaine addiction, thus preventing a relapse. Isradipine is a drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure and is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Researchers had believed that drug addiction is a mere physical craving. The scientists believed that those who become sober, but relapse later lack will power. However, during 1970s, the researchers discovered that addiction is controlled by a variety of environmental factors, including place, sound, sight and people.
During the study, the research team led by Hitoshi Morikawa trained the rats to associate either a white room or a black room with their addiction. The training was such that the mice almost always chose the room they associated their addiction with.
After a few days, the rats were treated with isradipine. The researchers found that the rate still chose to stick to the room they associated their addiction with, however, their preference was almost gone in the subsequent days. The researchers thus concluded that the memories of addiction have entirely gone in the isradipine-treated rats, as compared to the control group.
"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,” concluded Morikawa.