Research by NARSAD Grantee May Lead to New Way to Treat PTSD and Drug Addiction

Steven Laviolette, Ph.D., NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee from Western University, expert on PTSD
Steven Laviolette, Ph.D.

Research being done in the laboratory of NARSAD Young Investigator Grantee Steven Laviolette, Ph.D. has revealed a way to suppress memories that may lead to new treatments for both Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and drug addiction. In experiments done in rats, the researchers were able to suppress both the traumatic memories common in people with PTSD as well as the reward memories that are linked to drug addiction without permanently altering the memories of the animals. Their findings were published online in the December issue of the journal Neuropharmacology.

Dr. Laviolette, an associate professor in the Departments of Anatomy and Cell Biology, and Psychiatry at Western University in Ontario, Canada, said "what we've found is a common mechanism in the brain that can control recall of both aversive memories and memories associated with rewarding experience in the case of drug addiction." He also said "these findings are very important in disorders like PTSD or drug addiction. One of the common problems associated with these disorders is the obtrusive recall of memories that are associated with the fearful, emotional experiences in PTSD patients. And people suffering with addiction are often exposed to environmental cues that remind them of the rewarding effects of the drug. This can lead to drug relapse, one of the major problems with persistent addictions to drugs such as opiates."

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