Scientists Establish Use of Antihypertensive Drug to Fight Cocaine and Alcohol Addiction

Scientists Establish Use of Antihypertensive Drug to Fight Cocaine and Alcohol A

In the first-of-its-kind research, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin have made interventions in controlling cocaine and alcohol addiction, by using an antihypertensive drug.

The research, published this week, in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, attempted to gauge the benefits of Isradipine, an antihypertensive drug. The researchers believed that the drug could help erase unconscious memories that underlie addiction, thereby preventing relapses among addicts. They attempted to prove that addiction had more to do with environmental cues like people, places, sights and sounds that an addict experiences, than to do with the addict’s willpower.

What an antihypertensive drug does is, it blocks a particular type of ion channel in certain brain cells. The researchers found that by blocking these ion channels, with the use of isradipine, they could reserve the rewiring that triggered memories of addiction-associated places. For the study, they used a sample of trained rats to associate either a black or a white room with the use of a drug.

They found that when the addicted rats were offered the choice of going into either room, they always went in for the room they were addicted to. However, when they were administered a dose of isradipine, though they still preferred the room they were addicted to on the first day, they no longer preferred it on subsequent days. In contrast, the control group still preferred the room they associated with their addiction.

This helped the researchers conclude that the use of isradipine not only suppressed the addiction memories but also flushed them out entirely. The lead author suggested that the current research could be easily carried forward to humans as isradipine was already approved by the FDA.