New approach may treat cocaine addiction

Image courtesy of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

A new therapy aimed at treating cocaine addiction has yielded promising results, according to a report in Biological Psychiatry.

Researchers from Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute have studied a method that combines two substances used in treating addiction – amphetamine and topiramate. Amphetamine is linked to the reduction of the mental “reward” cocaine users get when taking the drug. Topiramate is used to treat alcoholism although it’s mechanism for doing so still is not well known, according to SciGuru.com.

In the study, 81 people addicted to cocaine either received a mix of amphetamine salts and topiramate or a placebo for 12 weeks. Regardless of the treatment, all of the subjects received behavioral interventions, according to the study.

Roughly 33 percent of those who received the mix of amphetamine and topiramate achieved three weeks of drug abstinence, as compared with almost 17 percent in the placebo group.

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that is a Schedule II drug under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has limited use for medical purposes but a high potential for abuse and addiction. The drug commonly is snorted or injected and causes a feeling of euphoria followed by a “crash”, including exhaustion and depression. It also can lead to cardiac arrest, convulsions, stroke and even death, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

Approximately 4.8 million Americans ages 12 and older had tried cocaine in the last year, according to 2009 figures from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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