There are “thousands of potential triggers” that could cause a recovering addict to relapse. They can be logical, like the sight or smell of a drug, or they could be random and unrelated. Researchers believe these triggers are based in memory, but they’re using different mechanisms than everyday memories.
According to the researchers, your memories manifest in dendritic spines, which are supported by a protein called actin. But for drug memories, the actin remains unstable, meaning those memories can be vulnerable. Previously, the researchers found drug called Latrunculin A can “attack” the unstable actin — but with a ton of additional risks.
The researchers gave meth-addicted mice a drug called Blebb to inhibit an actin precursor instead, and they found that one dose “produced a long-lasting disruption of context-induced drug seeking.” Although we’re still a long way away from human trials, it’s an extremely exciting finding.