Common Medication May Reduce Effects of Stress in Recovering Addicts

By Staff Writer

Stress is one of the most common causes of relapse in individuals who are working to recover from cocaine addiction or other forms of chemical dependency. However, a new study from a group of Baylor College of Medicine researchers shows that beta-blocker medications may reduce stress in recovering addicts and help them make healthier decisions.

For the study, the investigators asked a group of recovering heroin addicts to participate in a test of decision-making ability known as the Iowa Gambling Task. This test asks individuals to make choices while under stress.

The results showed that regardless of how long an addict had been recovering for, they made poorer decisions when they felt stress. However, participants who were given the beta blocker propranolol made smarter, more considered choices.

The researchers said that these results show that it may be possible to limit the effects of stress on the decision-making ability in recovering drug addicts with a simple medication treatment. Making smarter choices may enable those who are in recovery to avoid situations that may involve drugs and help them to turn down substances when in their presence.