In the quest to find an effective treatments for drug and alcohol addiction, scientists and treatment practitioners continually find new possibilities. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) feels that the most effective types of treatment include therapy and medications, however, evidence supports that many forms of rehabilitation can be successful and there is no single best approach for everyone.
A new study was recently completed that showed promising results for blood pressure medication in treatment addiction. Isradipine is a prescription that is traditionally given to patients who have high blood pressure, but researchers at the University of Texas, Austin conducted a study using this medication to determine how effective the drug was at handling substance abuse problems.
“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,” explained Professor Hitoshi Morikawa.
The scientists focused their experiment on the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory, learning and rewards. This is the part of the brain that appears to be the most effected by drugs and alcohol. Long after the substances have left the body the person still feels an intense pull to the drugs or alcohol, indicating that the brain is still influencing the addict to abuse drugs. Focusing on the section of the brain that is responsible for these sorts of impulses, scientists tested out the effectiveness of Isradipine.
The results showed the blood pressure medication intervened by eliminating the hard-wired memories that cause the brain to cue a craving. When a person takes Isradipine for high blood pressure the medication is effective because it blocks calcium channels in the heart. The same mechanism is what makes the drug effective for addicts. There are calcium channels in the brain and the scientists believe that the medication is successfully blocking the channels and allowing the brain to re-wire itself. The results of the study are published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.