News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Visiting expert to help drug addicts

Visiting expert to help drug addicts and people with research psychiatric disorders

July 9, 2013

A UK expert visiting the University of Canterbury (UC) is researching psychiatric disorders and drug addiction so she can develop treatments that erase maladaptive memories.

Dr Amy Milton from the University of Cambridge is examining memory reconsolidation, which underlies memory persistence and the updating of memories at retrieval.

The Cambridge scientist has found that by disrupting or erasing memories associated with drug use during recall she could prevent the memories from triggering relapses and further drug-taking.

``Being able to erase memories may be useful in treating psychiatric disorders. Many disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and drug addiction, persist in part because of strong emotional memories which are ultimately maladaptive.

``These memories link information about environmental cues - people, places, specific objects - and an emotional state such as fear for PTSD and craving for addiction. These memories underlie the persistent fear and anxiety seen in PTSD, and increase the risk of relapse in a previously drug-addicted person who is trying to remain abstinent.

``So far, my work has demonstrated that preventing specific types of chemical signalling in the brain, using drugs that block the receptors of these signals while the memory is in the active state, prevents the memory from reconsolidating and so disrupts the memory.

``This means that a single behavioural and pharmacological treatment has a long-term effect on behaviour. In our research we have seen a reduced risk of relapse that persists for at least a month after the treatment.

``We think that this novel way of treating addiction and PTSD could be very useful therapeutically, especially when used alongside other forms of therapy. We are now in the process of moving to the next step with small-scale experimental medical trials.’’

Dr Milton says, traditionally, memory was viewed as similar to a book, which could be shelved but never changed once printed. She believes memory is more like a word processing document which could be saved and then recalled.

``Our results suggest that efforts should be made to develop drugs that could be given in a controlled clinical or treatment environment in which addicts would have their most potent drug memories reactivated.

``Such treatments would be expected to diminish the effects of those memories in the future and help individuals resist relapse and maintain their abstinence.

``This is an exciting new approach to the treatment of drug addiction that has great potential.’’

Dr Milton is an Erskine visitor to UC. The Erskine fellowship programme was established in 1963 following a generous bequest by former distinguished UC student John Erskine. She will be researching with Dr Juan Canales at UC’s Psychology Department.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Album Review And Rap Beefs: Tame Impala, Currents.

Tame Impala’s new album Currents has one of the hallmarks of an enduring album. At first listen it seems like good, if somewhat ordinary, pop but as you go back more and more layers unravel revealing deeply rich, expertly crafted songs. More>>

Flagging Enthusiasm: Gareth Morgan Announces Winner Of $20k Flag Competition

The winner of the Morgan Foundation’s $20,000 flag competition is “Wā kāinga / Home”, designed by Auckland based Studio Alexander. Economist and philanthropist Gareth Morgan set up the competition because he had strong views on what the flag should represent but he couldn’t draw one himself. More>>

ALSO:

Books: The Lawson Quins Tell Their Incredible Story

They could have been any family of six children – except that five of them were born at once. It will come as a shock to many older New Zealanders to realise that Saturday July 25 is the Lawson quintuplets’ 50th birthday. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Wartime Women

Coinciding as it does with the movie Imitation Game which focusses on Alan Turing breaking the Enigma code in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park (“BP”), this book is likely to attract a wide readership. It deserves to do so, as it illustrates that BP was very much more than Turing and his colleagues. More>>

Maori Language Commission: Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori 2015

The theme for Māori Language Week 27 July – 2 August 2015 is ‘Whāngaihia te Reo ki ngā Mātua’ ‘Nurture the language in parents’. It aims to encourage and support every day Māori language use for parents and caregivers with children” says Acting Chief Executive Tuehu Harris.. More>>

ALSO:

Live Music: Earl Sweatshirt Plays To Sold Out Bodega

The hyped sell-out crowd had already packed themselves as close as they could get to the stage before Earl came on. The smell of weed, sweat and beer filled Bodega – more debauched sauna than bar by this point. When he arrived on stage the screaming ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news