Images of heroin may prove useful in addiction treatment
Watching a five-minute video can help whitewash memories of past drug use in former heroin addicts and ease their cravings, a new study shows. By weakening mental ties between drug-related paraphernalia and the desire to use, the method may be a powerful and long-lasting way to help people struggling with addiction stay clean.
“The process is really simple,” says study coauthor David Epstein of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore, Md. “But it’s based on some really important ideas.”
The method, described in the April 13 Science, seems to work by dampening the association between using a drug and cues that remind someone of using. Walking by a familiar corner where a dealer works or bumping into an old friend from drug-using days, for example, can be particularly hard for people battling addiction.
Led by neuroscientist Lin Lu of Peking University in China, researchers first tested the idea in animals, ea