Trying to Reduce the Number of Addicts Suffering Alcohol Relapse

Whether you have only just realised that you are suffering from an addiction or you have had an alcohol relapse, it can be difficult to completely come to terms with the nature of your addiction. Some addicts are unable to fully acknowledge that they are suffering, letting the problem worsen until it becomes near impossible to successfully overcome.

Even so, experts are continually working on new ways to help overcome alcohol addiction, and the most recent idea involves using ketamine to erase memories of alcohol to counteract the addiction.

Erasing Memories

Recent research by psychologists at University College London has shown that a new and innovative treatment that involves ketamine could assist greatly with helping individuals overcome alcoholism by ‘erasing’ memories related to alcohol. The scientists have been investigating whether one dose of the powerful tranquiliser could help those that drink to dangerous levels but who are trying to cut down on their alcohol consumption. With few treatments effective for alcoholism currently, this often leads to alcohol relapse. But with this potential treatment involving ketamine, experts hope to reduce the overall numbers of those suffering alcohol relapse.

Disruptive Effect

The research has attracted negative views from some quarters, with some believing that treating addiction with another drug could produce even worse effects. However, the researchers have insisted that there is evidence to say that ketamine can be used in the disruption of harmful behaviour patterns. As ketamine can have a disruptive effect on the overall formation of memories, experts believe that this could be used to cloud the memories that trigger addiction and other harmful behaviour patterns.

Environmental Triggers

One of the lead researchers, Ravi Das, explained, “There is evidence that it could be useful as a treatment for alcoholism. Memories that you form can be hijacked by drugs in some people. If you were an alcoholic, you might have a strong memory of being in a certain place and wanting to drink. Those memories get continuously triggered by things in the environment that you can’t avoid. The main problem is the really high relapse rate after treatment. People can successfully quit using over the short term while they’re being monitored in the hospital … but when they return home, they’re exposed to those environmental triggers again.”

These environmental triggers are often what can cause an alcohol relapse, which in turn, can cause further harm to the individual.

Window of Opportunity

There is increasing evidence to support the idea that memories could be open to manipulation, as they are less stable than previously thought. This is why scientists believe that there is a ‘window of opportunity’ in relation to this instability. UCL is planning to trial this idea of erasing memories with ketamine. Participants of the research, who are all heavy drinkers, will sit down with a glass of beer placed in front of them; the idea is to trigger other alcohol-related memories. The participants will then be distracted by a surprise from one of the researchers to disrupt these memories. After this, the participants will be given either a placebo or a ketamine infusion and then heavily monitored over the course of a year to see if their drinking habits have changed.

General Social Attitude

Speaking about the negative comments received, Das said, “There’s just the general social attitude that everything that’s illegal is terrible. There will obviously be that kind of narrow-sighted pushback. But if it’s safe and effective enough, it should be recommended.”

Andrew Misell, the spokesperson for Alcohol Concern, said, “The researchers have quite rightly highlighted what a lot of people in recovery from alcohol problems know from experience, namely that cues or triggers like the smell of beer can cause a relapse even after long periods of abstinence. Any work looking at how people can overcome these pitfalls is going to be useful.” He did choose to add that no drug-orientated therapy is entirely risk-free ‘and that certainly includes ketamine’.

Overcoming an Alcohol Addiction

You may be concerned about your own drinking habits and feel that you need a helping hand in overcoming your addiction. If so, get in touch with us here at Addiction Helper. We can assist anyone with an addiction if they are motivated and determined to beat their illness once and for all, whether they are a first-time addict or someone who has suffered an alcohol relapse. Working with many of the UK’s top recovery clinics, we will ensure that you are referred to one that will benefit your particular needs the most and ensure you achieve maximum results. If you require additional information or have any general enquiries, then do not hesitate to contact us today and we will do everything we can to assist you.

Source: Radical ketamine therapy could treat alcohol addiction (The Guardian)


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