Blood pressure medication prevents compulsive drinking: Study

Posted on January 27th, 2016 in alcohol addiction, substance abuse

Blood pressure medication prevents compulsive drinking: Study

Alcohol addiction is a chronic brain disorder that adversely impacts a person’s normal body functions and his or her ability to resist compulsive drinking. For many years, it was believed that physical cravings trigger different types of addictions in people and the lack of willpower results in relapses. In the 1970s some researchers discovered the role of environmental factors, such as place, sound, sight and people, in controlling substance abuse. Today, scientists believe substance abuse to be linked with memories and habits that instruct the brain to drink in a certain situation or environment.
“Addicts show up to the rehab center already addicted,” said Hitoshi Morikawa, an associate professor of neuroscience, University of Texas at Austin. “Many addicts want to quit, but their brains are already conditioned. This drug might help the addicted brain become de-addicted,” he added.
A breakthrough in these studies was achieved when researchers successfully stopped cocaine and alcohol addiction using a drug used to treat high blood pressure. The drug helps prevent addiction and relapses by erasing memories that predominate addiction – the first of its kind treatment.
The hypertension drug known as isradipine reportedly erases memories that trigger alcohol or cocaine addiction, paving the way to suppress cravings. The drug – sold under the brand name DynaCirc – has already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patients with high blood pressure. Researchers have been counting on its popularity, so that clinical trials could be carried out more rapidly if a new drug has to be used. “A drug that targets the triggers that lead up to addiction is likely to be more effective than the drugs currently used to prevent people from experiencing the euphoria that accompanies addictive drug use,” says Morikawa.

How does medication affect alcoholism?

Based on various studies, it has been found that drugs that help lower blood pressure can also block ion channels found in the heart and brain cells. Isradipine is a calcium channel blocker that reduces high blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels in the heart, preventing heart attack or stroke. As these calcium channels are also present in the brain, using isradipine to block these channels also appear to reverse the habit of addiction.
This phenomenon was made easy by an experiment by the researchers led by Morikawa. In the study, published in the Molecular Psychiatry, rats were conditioned to associate either a white or a black room with a drug. On being addicted to the drug, the rodents were found to choose their preferred room. However, with a high dose of isradipine, the rats no longer stuck to a particular room type.

According to Morikawa, “The isradipine erased memories that led them to associate a certain room with cocaine or alcohol.”
As the FDA has already approved isradipine, scientists may not have to face challenges in carrying out its clinical trials.

Path to recovery

Like other deadly diseases, drinking can also get out of control gradually. The option of alcohol treatment centers can allow patients sobriety, which can make managing personal life and professional life much easier. Working to maintain recovery from alcohol can allow each individual better odds of leading a healthier happier life. The Arizona Alcohol Addiction Helpline can connect you to the best alcohol treatment center in your area. Call us anytime at 866-671-1510 to learn more on how to get started.

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