New Drug Could Stop Addiction Relapse – Isradipine
For nearly all cases, becoming sober is only the first step in pursuing recovery. Repeated drug and alcohol use creates strong neurological pathways in the brain designed continue using the same substance. These connections can be so strong that it may often overpower one’s own logic in order to satisfy the need to administer the substance. Therefore, it is often very difficult for people to remain sober after treatment without some means of support.
Issues After Rehab.
Most relapses occur when recovering individuals find themselves in an environment that contains memories associated with attaining or using drugs. These elements that illicit memories are known as triggers, as they tend to act as a prelude to relapse. Triggers are different for each person; depending on the experiences they’ve had with drugs, triggers could consist of places where that person bought cocaine, or someone who one used to drink with, even driving down a street that was on the way to his/her dealer’s home. When individuals encounter any of these triggers, their mind immediately makes the association with using drugs, activating the reward system of the brain that is responsible for cravings. Without proper means of coping, combined with levels of stress, these cravings often get the better of recovering individuals, causing them to return to their old using habits.
Most individuals have heavily relied on support groups and meetings to stay motivated to remain sober and avoid relapsing. Other people have used medications that block the euphoria that is caused by using drugs. While these methods have been effective for numerous people, there are certain pitfalls in each approach. While meetings may help individuals learn how to avoid high-risk situations and relapse triggers, some of these triggers can be unavoidable or unexpected. And while medications may suppress the high caused by drugs, it does not mean that the individual will not experience triggers and craving that lead to use, regardless of achieving the high or not.
A Possible Answer to Treating Relapse.
Recently, there has been a new discovery from researchers at the University of Texas. Professor Hitoshi Morikawa and his team of researchers have performed tests with a drug known as isradipine. Isradipine, surprisingly enough was not originally intended for treating substance abuse, but has already been approved by the FDA as a treatment for hypertension and high blood pressure. However, professor Morikawa’s research findings with lab rats and their association with drugs indicates that isradipine removes the environmental cues from memories of drug use in the rats.
Morikawa states on his results that “The isradipine erased memories that led them to associate a certain room with cocaine or alcohol.”
According to the study, several labs rats were administered with different addictive substances within small chambers of different colors. The rats that were not on isradipine almost always returned to the same room where they received the drug. However, the rats that were on isradipine did not demonstrate any preference as to which room to go into, indicating a separation between substance use and environmental triggers.
Hope for the Future in Addiction Treatment.
While these findings are still in relatively early testing, isradipine’s use in treating addiction seems to have hopeful potential. As it is already approved by the FDA, isradipine has been shown to be safe for human administration. Therefore, if future research continues to bring good news about isradipine, we may very well see this medication as a tool in many rehabs and treatment centers. Combined with solid psychotherapy to address roots of the initial addiction, as well as support groups for motivation, isradipine could potentially provide individuals in recovery with additional safe-guards against relapse triggers, ensuring longer periods of sobriety and healthier lives.
For more information on life after rehab, click here to learn more about aftercare.