Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have discovered a possibility for the potential development of a first-ever pharmacological treatment for cocaine addiction treatment.
A common beta blocker, Propranolol, which is currently used to treat people with hypertension and anxiety, has shown to be effective in preventing the brain from retrieving memories that are associated with cocaine addiction in recent tests undertaken on animals with addiction.The astonishing research was undertaken by Devin Mueller, UWM assistant professor of psychology and co-author James Otis at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).
The startling research was published in the August issue of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology (“Inhibition of ?-Adrenergic Receptors Induces a Persistent Deficit in Retrieval of a Cocaine-Associated Memory Providing Protection against Reinstatement.”)
Cocaine addiction is one of the hardest drug addictions to kick, with about 80 percent of people trying to quit experiencing a relapse within six months.
“Right now, there are no FDA-approved medications that are known to successfully treat cocaine abuse,” says Mueller, “only those that are used to treat the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, which are largely ineffective at preventing relapse.”
The effects of propranolol were long-lasting and possibly permanent, he says, even without subsequent doses and even in the presence of stimuli known to induce relapse.
At the moment, “exposure therapy” is used to aid recovering addicts suppress their drug-seeking behavior. In this therapy however, the patient is repeatedly exposed to stimuli that provoke cravings but do not satisfy them. When done repeatedly over time, the patient experiences reduced craving when presented with those stimuli.
The success of exposure therapy, however, is limited. Combining therapy with the use of propranolol, says Mueller, would boost the effectiveness of the treatment.
[tooltip color="blue" text="In order to develop a drug treatment for overcoming relapse, the next step in the research is to determine where in the brain propranolol acts to mediate the retrieval of cocaine-associated memories. The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, one of the National Institutes of Health, and by the UWM Research Growth Initiative"] Future Research [/tooltip]
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by Gogethealthynow.com) from materials provided by University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee