A medication used to treat high blood pressure might be useful in addiction treatment, a study of rats suggests.
The drug, called isradipine, erased memories that led the rats to associate a certain room with cocaine or alcohol.
The University of Texas researchers trained rats to associate either a white or black room with a dose of cocaine or alcohol, Popular Science reports.
Once they were trained, the rats always chose the color room that was associated with their addicted substance.
The researchers then gave the rats isradipine. Right after they took the drug, the rats returned to the same room. But in the following days, they did not show a strong preference for either room.
The study is published in Molecular Psychiatry.
Lead researcher Hitoshi Morikawa said it is not yet known if isradipine is as effective in humans as it is in rats. Because the drug is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration, human trials potentially could be conducted more quickly than with nonapproved drugs, he said.
"Addicts show up to the rehab center already addicted," he said in a news release. "Many addicts want to quit, but their brains are already conditioned. This drug might help the addicted brain become de-addicted."
Because high doses of isradipine lowers blood pressure, it might be necessary to give it along with medication that prevents blood pressure from falling too low, Morikawa noted.