Mice addicted to methamphetamine who received a single injection of an experimental drug called blebbistatin did not experience a relapse, a new study finds.
The drug disrupts memories of addiction, without impacting other memories, according to The Washington Post.
Researchers from The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida say if the drug is found effective in humans, it could have a big impact on drug treatment. They hope to start human trials of blebbistatin in five years, the article notes.
"The idea is that someone would go into a rehab program with the typical abstinence therapies and while they are in the treatment program they would receive this medication one time and it should remove all of the associations with the drug," said researcher Courtney A. Miller.
Miller explained that immediately following withdrawal from drug use, most people feel physically and emotionally well, with few cravings. But after one to three months into recovery, many people report hitting a "wall." They are unable to feel pleasure and have strong cravings that often result in relapse. Drug treatment for recovery from substance use disorder is extremely limited, Miller notes.
Many potential triggers, such as the sight or smell of a drug, can send a person back to drug use. "People can go through rehab and go about their daily lives but these memories, these triggers can last for their entire lives," Miller said. "They can be clean but then stumble across something that is a trigger for them, reminding them of wanting to use a drug, and then that can induce craving and relapse ... These memories are one of the major risk factors."
The study appears in Molecular Psychiatry.