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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

10-16-12 | By

Do We Need to Find a Medication for Cocaine Addiction?

A Miracle Cure for Cocaine Addiction

In this day and age, it seems as if we are always looking for a quick fix. There is a pill or medication for every ailment you can think of. In the last few decades we have invented and approved medication for depression, anxiety, pain management, sex drive deficiencies, and even drug withdrawal management.

There is no shortage of FDA approved drugs floating around the market.

Medication and Drug Addiction

There are FDA-approved medications to treat various types of drug addiction. For example, suboxone is a commonly prescribed drug intended to help with opiate addiction, but there are currently no approved pharmaceuticals for the treatment of cocaine addiction. Will we ever see a drug hit the market that can aid people in quitting cocaine?

In preliminary testing, some drugs have shown promising results, but we’re still likely at least several years away from seeing any of them get FDA approval. Let’s take a look at some of the medications that could potentially help those in quitting cocaine.

Varenicline

Brand Name: Chantix

A study published in February 2012 by the journal of alcohol and drug dependence demonstrated findings by the researchers at the University of Pennsylvania that the anti-smoking drug varenicline could be an effective treatment for cocaine addiction. In a nine-week trial, participants that took varenicline were half as likely to use cocaine as those who took a placebo.

Varenicline works to reduce cravings as well as lessen the pleasurable effects of cocaine. The drug has been controversial for the treatment of nicotine addiction. However, there are mixed opinions of the effectiveness of the drug because it can cause side effects that increase the likelihood of suicide and self-injury in users. It can also increase the risk of heart problems.

As of now, Varenicline is the front runner of potential options for medication for cocaine addiction. The side effects for the drug are concerning. However, one must take into the account the risk vs rewards when comparing it to the side effects of untreated cocaine addiction.

Vigabatrin

Brand Name: Sabril

The biopharmaceutical company Catalyst Pharmaceutical Partners (CPRX) is currently working on developing the drug vigabatrin for the treatment of cocaine and meth addiction. Vigabatrin is a drug used to treat seizures and spasms in adults and infants. CPRX was expected to release the results of a 24-week clinical trial with 200 cocaine-addicted participants around November 2012.

We can also look back a study performed in 2009 and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. In this study, 40 percent of participants who took vigabatrin during a three-week period were able to abstain from cocaine, and 25 percent were able to significantly decrease their cocaine use. Vigabatrin can help stop cravings, but its side effects as an antiepileptic drug can include severe and permanent vision defects.

Disulfiram

Brand Name: Antabuse

Disulfiram is an FDA-approved medication for treating alcohol addiction, and studies are being done to see if it can be used a medication for cocaine addiction.

When a person taking disulfiram uses alcohol, it makes them ill, and the adverse reaction is supposed to help alcoholics learn to stop using alcohol. There have been several studies beginning in the 1990’s that showed disulfiram to be effective in the treatment of cocaine addiction. Because this medication is already approved to help alcohol addiction, it seems more promising that the FDA would approve it for cocaine addiction as well, but so far that hasn’t happened yet.

Is a Medication for Cocaine Really Necessary?

People who are trying to find out how to quit cocaine do have some options in terms of finding a medication that will help.

There are many drugs that are used to treat the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, such as anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants. While they can make it easier to endure the negative physical and mental side effects of quitting cocaine, they cannot eliminate the withdrawal symptoms entirely or help a person manage sustained abstinence by preventing future cravings.

Even if a drug does get FDA-approval in the future, we have to remember that there is no miracle cure for addiction. Recovery still requires willingness, significant lifestyle changes, peer support, and oftentimes cognitive and behavioral therapy. A medication for quitting cocaine would only be another tool available to help.

This all begs the question – is hunting for a medication for cocaine addiction even worth the time, effort and money required for research?

There is no guarantee that medications will ever rid someone of their cocaine problem. On top of that, one has to ask themselves if it is morally correct to create medication designed for this purpose.

Wouldn’t creating a drug designed to solve a drug problem just cause more problems?

We have already seen this in the controversy of methadone. Sure, methadone has helped many people get their lives back, but methadone has also created problems with addicts switching one addiction for another. The only difference is that they now get their drugs from a doctor and not a street dealer.

There are pros and cons to both scenarios.

None the less, more research will be done on this subject matter. Who’s to say that finding a medication for cocaine addiction won’t be able to help millions of people?

Time will tell.

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