Psychologists based at University College London are testing whether a one-off dose of the drug, the horse tranquillizer, ketamine could help hazardous drinkers who are trying to reduce their alcohol intake. Alcohol addiction is notoriously difficult to treat, and there are few effective therapies available.
According to an article in The Guardian, using a recreational drug to treat addiction may sound counterintuitive, but the researchers say there is a growing body of research suggesting that ketamine can be used to disrupt harmful patterns of behavior.
Crucially, ketamine can block the formation of memories, and scientists believe that this property could be harnessed to help over-write the memories that drive addiction and harmful patterns of behavior.
If the trial yields promising results, the researchers hope that the approach could form the basis for therapy sessions targeted at alcoholics and people who are drinking unhealthily.
However, they acknowledge that there may be resistance to the use of a recreational drug to treat people with addiction.