Her mind also remembered the places where she usually took the drug and who she took it with.
Just as you associate the sound of the bell with the end of class, or the smell of baking cookies with impending deliciousness, the sights, smells and sounds of previous drug experiences reminded Savannah of that equation, drugs = escape.
These “cues” made her anticipate and crave drugs even more, making the formula cues --> drugs = escape.
Eight years after her addiction began, Savannah became sober, and now she is supporting herself independently. She has begun a new life in a new environment.
However, the cues of the past still threaten to reactivate the drug = escape equation.
Who did she do drugs with? Her parents. Where did she do them? In her parents’ homes. Simply visiting her parents could trigger a relapse.
"The beauty of memories, however, is that they can change. When memories are recalled, they become temporarily flexible, and they can either be strengthened or weakened. Propranolol weakens memories in this flexible state. So, if people recall a drug-taking experience after consuming propranolol, the memory linking drug with situational cues may be diminished.”*
In Lonergan’s study, ten people in addiction treatment programs wrote about a drug-taking experience in detail, including as many cues as possible. They received propranolol, and then read their narrative aloud to elicit memories of drug-taking.
After six sessions, the participants who took propranolol reported less craving for alcohol, cocaine and opioids than those who did not take the drug. Cues induce craving, so less craving might mean that propranolol weakened the memory of the cues.
Created with images by Siarhei - "Human brain digital illustration. Electrical activity, flashes and lightning on a blue background." • Claudio_Scott - "girl smoke cigarette nicotine woman" • Greta Schölderle Møller - "untitled image" • jarmoluk - "photo photographer old" • Jason Wong - "untitled image" • NeONBRAND - "untitled image" • skeeze - "clasped hands comfort hands" * Phoenix House - "Savannah"