New Study Provides Breakthrough in Addiction Treatments

Neuroscience

According to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, a memory-enhancing medication may help drug addicts avoid relapsing after therapy. Scientists have found that D-cycloserine, a chemical used to treat fear and anxiety disorders, may help a drug addict gain resistance.

The study, led by Mary Torregrossa of Yale University, consisted of observing 168 rats that self-administered cocaine for weeks, a behavior identical to addiction in humans. The researchers used extinction therapy, a behavioral therapy, to minimize the craving effects of cues.

They also added the D-cycloserine memory-enhancing drug to supplement the therapy, which typically only works where it is performed, such as in a treatment center. They noticed that using the drug to allow the therapy to work more broadly is a huge advancement in addiction treatment since typically addicts are able to stay clean inside a treatment facility but experience immense difficulty staying clean when they are released.

The results show that D-cycloserine, combined with extinction therapy can help addicts resist relapsing due to environmental cues such as drug-related sights or smells. The study is under further review to determine how the findings may be applied to humans.

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