While some researchers focus efforts on identifying and developing new treatments for substance addictions, others concentrate on finding new uses for existing drugs. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have found that the beta blocker propranolol, currently used to treat people with high blood pressure, is effective in preventing the brain from retrieving memories linked with cocaine use in rats.
The study marks the first time that a treatment has prevented the retrieval of memories linked to drug addiction, a driving force for relapse. The next step in their research is to determine what part of the brain propranolol acts on to block the retrieval of such memories. Imagine a drug that can entirely eliminate any memory of drug use. If developed, a drug like this would become an incredible asset for recovering persons to minimize the chance of relapse.
Euphoric recall is a predominant symptom of relapse. This term refers to a recovering person conjuring memories of past drug use in a positive fashion. Think of a quick montage from a movie glamorizing drug use – that’s precisely what euphoric recall is. But armed with a medication that reduces or eliminates euphoric recall, doctors can scratch off one symptom from relapse’s playbook.