Alcoholics will be given a prescription drug currently used to treat anxiety and heart conditions in the hopes to help them stop drinking. Scientists at England’s Cambridge University believe that a new drug, propranolol, may block some of the cravings that addicts have for alcohol, and will begin the world’s first clinical trial later this year to test their theory. The clinical trial follows studies on rats that showed the drug could erase a stimulus in the animal’s brain when they had a craving for a drink. Scientists believe the drug may work by stripping emotion from the memory.
“Traditionally, memory was viewed as similar to a book, which can be shelved but never changed once printed. We now think that memory is more like a word processing document – you can save it and then recall it, at which point you can adapt or even delete its contents,” said lead researcher Dr. Amy Milton of Cambridge’s Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute.
Propranolol is a beta-blocker that was originally used to treat heart and circulatory conditions, including tremors and high blood pressure. It is also used to reduce anxiety symptoms like a rapid heart rate or sweating.