08 Sep Vigabatrin Tested in Potential Treatment of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine addiction is not an easy habit to overcome and doctors and treatment specialists continue to study different methods that could prove effective. One breakthrough may offer hope to those truly desperate to overcome their addiction, yet find it increasingly difficult to do on their own.
Vigabatrin – also known as GVG – is frequently used as an anti-epileptic medication and is also known as an anticonvulsant. Used in combination with other medications, it has been effective in the treatment of complex partial seizures in those who are at least 16 years of age. A powerful medication, Vigabatrin is often used only after other anti-epileptic medications have proven unsuccessful.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse funded a preliminary clinical trial – the National Institutes of Health – which found that gamma vinyl-GABA (GVG) may offer potential benefits in the treatment of cocaine addiction. GVG was also studied by researchers at the New York University School of Medicine and Brookhaven National Laboratory who found that the drug could dramatically cut cocaine use in individuals who had used the substance daily for at least three years.
According to Dr. Frank Vocci, Director, Division of Treatment Research and Development at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, GVG has shown to be able to reduce the levels of dopamine that floods the brains of cocaine users. Dopamine is the “feel-good” chemical that produces the high cocaine users crave. When GVG is used to temper the dopamine system, it could prove effective in blocking the addiction effects of cocaine.
During the preliminary U.S. trial, 40 percent of addicts who also participated in counseling were able to successfully give up their cocaine habit for the duration of the 60 day study. As noted by Stephen Dewey of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, this is unheard of in addiction treatment. No medications have been identified thus far as proving effective in blocking the cocaine craving in addicts.
While this research holds potential promise for those cocaine addicts who truly want to overcome their addiction, there are some who are still skeptical. Cocaine continues to be a recreational drug and those who use the substance, generally want to continue doing so, according to UK drug counselor, Allan Parry. He suggests the identification of Vigabatrin as an effective treatment in cocaine addiction will actually only apply to a small group of individuals.
Whether the application of Vigabatrin or GVG can apply to small or large groups, for right now it will only be used in the laboratory for testing within the United States. The drug has yet to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration due to concerns of a relatively high incidence of tunnel vision that has occurred in people given the drug over the long term.
Until it is proven safe and that the tunnel vision is not a threat, Vigabatrin may only be available in other countries. While waiting, additional studies done on the drug’s effectiveness in treating cocaine and other addictions could prove beneficial.
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