Researchers Discover Potential Pharmacological Cocaine Treatment
Two studies work on developing a treatment plan for cocaine addiction:
"In one study, a common beta blocker, propranolol, currently used to treat people with hypertension and anxiety, has shown to be effective in preventing the brain from retrieving memories associated with cocaine use in animal-addiction models, according to Devin Mueller, UWM assistant professor of psychology and a co-author with James Otis of the research.
The work was presented today at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.
This is the first time that a therapeutic treatment has been shown to block the retrieval of memories associated with drug addiction, a major reason many addicts experience relapse, says Mueller.
Along with the discovery of propranolol’s cocaine-memory blocking effects, the researchers also have identified the primary players in the brain responsible for “extinction” learning – the ability to replace cocaine-associated memories with associations that have no drug “reward.”
Understanding the neural mechanisms of extinction learning can also point to a possible pharmacological target for treating drug addiction, says Mueller."