Medication Tested for Treating Cocaine Addiction

Medication Tested for Treating Cocaine Addiction

Individuals who seek treatment for cocaine addiction are often treated using forms therapy, including meeting in groups and individual sessions. Many treatment programs utilize a type of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps the patient recognize the cues that instigate cravings for a substance.

Those who complete therapy-based treatment often struggle when they finish a program, and sometimes quickly relapse. For some, an additional form of treatment may be necessary to help them overcome their addiction.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine examined the effectiveness of a medication in treating those with cocaine addiction. The drug is called Doxazosin, and may be recognized by Cardura, its brand name. The drug is often used to treat heart problems and issues related to the prostate, but it may help those addicted to cocaine as well.

The drug is prescribed to counter high blood pressure effects and to relax prostrate and bladder muscles, but the scientists believed that it might be useful in counteracting the “high” that is experienced when using cocaine.

Doxazosin is a medication that blocks noradrenergic a1 receptors and it may be helpful to cocaine addicts, says the lead author of the study, Thomas Newton, M.D. Newton is a doctor at the Menninger Psychiatric and Behavioral Healthcare Clinic located in Houston.

The research team wanted to test the ability of Doxazosin to mediate the effects of cocaine on the body. To test this, they recruited 13 cocaine-addicted volunteers that had not received treatment for addiction. The volunteers all met cocaine dependency DSM-IV criteria and were all between 18 and 55 years old.

The patients divided into two groups, with one group receiving Doxazosin and the other receiving a placebo. Then the participants, who took the drug, were given one-milligram doses several times during the day building up to taking four milligrams each day. This occurred on the tenth day of the study.

The patients were then given cocaine in 20 to 40 milligrams doses three times in one day, with two doses during the morning, then one in the afternoon. The scientists used the Beck Depression Inventory to analyze the subjects’ mood and reaction, including measures of symptoms of cocaine, the level of the high experienced, stimulation level, anxiety levels, positive sensations and the likelihood that they would use the drug again.

The researchers found that for those who took the Doxazosin before being given cocaine, their positive effects were significantly muted by the use of the drug. In addition, the patients who were given Doxazosin experienced lower ratings of “likely to use,” which gave a measure of the individual’s craving levels.

The patients who were given Doxazosin reported no significant outward symptoms that were negative. Because of a small sample size, however, the researchers note that further research is necessary to fully understand the potential effects associated with the drug.

The findings of the study are published in the February issue of PloS one.

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