Drug-Free Method Changes Drug Memories, Reduces Cravings
A medication-free method for helping people retain their drug recovery and resist cravings may be on the verge of becoming part of treatment programs, and it’s based on interventions to behavior that are tied to memories of past drug use.
Researchers have long known that urges and cravings can pop up at nearly anytime for people recovering from drug addictions, and can create triggers strong enough to spur a relapse and a return to the behaviors. The effect, says a recent Time article, resembles how a person might hear a piece of music that triggers a yearning for a past love affair.
In a recent study, people revisited an experience based in fear or negativity in their memory, and then were presented the object of that fear in a safe way within a short period of time after the memory recall.
The process can alter the way a person remembers the experience or allow exposure to the feared stimuli without the fear and stress. The researchers are applying similar techniques to people recovering from heroin addiction, allowing them to view heroin paraphernalia rather than drugs shortly after allowing them to view a video about drugs.
Researchers from Cambridge University said that some groups showed significantly lessened cravings for the drugs and lowered blood pressure rates throughout the testing.
Because a relapse and a craving for drugs or alcohol can involve many complex factors, this type of intervention may only be one piece of the strategy, say experts, and it must also be part of an overall professionally-guided rehab program. It does hold advantages in being a drug-free approach however.