The world of science and medicine has long searched for possible solutions to help people get out of drug and alcohol addiction. A newly discovered medicine could be the answer, according to a group of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin.
Isradipine, a calcium channel blocker drug designed to bring down blood pressure, was effective to make lab mice shy away from drugs that they were addicted to. The scientists inferred that drug and alcohol addiction stem from environmental factors such as sensory perceptions that people associate with their respective addictions. Study lead author Hitoshi Morikawa and his team revealed that the medication helped the rats forego their associations with environmental factors and lead them to veer away from their addiction. “The isradipine erased memories that led them to associate a certain room with cocaine or alcohol,” Morikawa shared via a news release.
The lab rats were designed to be addicted to a particular drug and associate it with either a black or white room. Upon ingestion of isradipine, the rodents showed no preference to the room that they associate with their drug addiction. This new angle in combatting substance abuse could prove beneficial to existing addiction treatments, according to the scientists. “Many addicts want to quit, but their brains are already conditioned. This drug might help the addicted brain become de-addicted,” Morikawa added.
The researchers pointed out that isradipine is already approved by the FDA for human use, so its approval as an anti-addiction drug could be carried out fast. However, the research team emphasizesd a potential need to pair isradipine with another drug that can regulate blood pressure, because taking too much of the drug may lower the blood pressure too much.