Blood Pressure Med May Prevent Addiction
A drug often used to control high blood pressure was found to stop cocaine and alcohol addiction in rats in a new study at the University of Texas in Austin.
Researchers trained rats to associate either a black or white room with cocaine or alcohol while becoming addicted to the substances. As the rats became addicted, they nearly always chose the room they associated with the addictive substance.
The rats were then given a high dose of isradipine, a drug used to treat high blood pressure, before presenting them with a choice between rooms. On the first day of treatment the rats still chose the room with the addictive substance, but on following days they no longer showed a preference. The untreated control group still showed strong preference for the room associated with their addiction.
The researchers think this happened because isradipine seems to erase memories that lead to associating memories with cravings. Isradipine reduces blood pressure by blocking calcium distribution between the heart and blood vessels; however this same connection also occurs in the brain. Blocking calcium channels in the brain has the effect of rewiring the circuits associated with addiction cues--such as the colors of the rooms associated with cocaine or alcohol.
The study shows promise, since a drug that targets the emotional triggers of addiction could be more effective than other medication being used.
However,such a treatment could come with a risk of causing blood pressure to get too low.