Brain’s ‘Dark Side’ as Key to Cocaine Addiction

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found evidence that an emotion-related brain region called the central amygdala — whose activity promotes feelings of malaise and unhappiness — plays a major role in sustaining cocaine addiction.

In experiments with rats, the TSRI researchers found signs that cocaine-induced changes in this brain system contribute to anxiety-like behavior and other unpleasant symptoms of drug withdrawal — symptoms that typically drive an addict to keep using. When the researchers blocked specific brain receptors called kappa opioid receptors in this key anxiety-mediating brain region, the rats’ signs of addiction abated.

“These receptors appear to be a good target for therapy,” said Marisa Roberto, associate professor in TSRI’s addiction research group, the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders. Roberto was the principal investigator for the study, which appears in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Carrot or Stick?

In addition to its clinical implications, the finding represents an alternative to the pleasure-seeking, “positive” motivational circuitry that is traditionally emphasized in addiction.

Full story of the brains dark side at Science Daily

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Drug Combination May Help Treat Cocaine Addiction, Study Suggests

Combination of Drugs Can Treat Cocaine AddictionA new study suggests combining the anti-seizure drug topiramate with amphetamines may help treat cocaine addiction. The Los Angeles Times reports topiramate has shown promise in treating nicotine and alcohol dependence, while amphetamines are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Both classes of drugs have been tested independently as a treatment for cocaine addiction. Topiramate is slow to take effect, while amphetamines have not shown promise by themselves as a treatment for cocaine dependence.

No single drug has been proven effective in treating cocaine addiction, the article notes.

In the new study, 39 people with cocaine dependence were given the drug combination for 120 days, while 42 received a placebo. Those who received the drug combination were about twice as likely to be abstinent from cocaine use for three consecutive weeks (33 percent vs. 16.7 percent). Participants in both groups received psychotherapy designed to keep them on their medication, while avoiding street drugs.

Full story of cocaine treatment at DrugFree.org

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Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Scientists Show Two-Drug Combination Has Potential to Fight Cocaine Addiction

New Drug To Fight Cocaine AddictionA fine-tuned combination of two existing pharmaceutical drugs has shown promise as a potential new therapy for people addicted to cocaine—a therapy that would reduce their craving for the drug and blunt their symptoms of withdrawal.

In laboratory experiments at The Scripps Research Institute, the potential therapy, which combines low doses of the drug naltrexone with the drug buprenorphine, made laboratory rats less likely to take cocaine compulsively—a standard preclinical test that generally comes before human trials.

While the two-drug combination would have to prove safe and effective for people in clinical trials before approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the work represents a significant advance in the field because there are currently no FDA-approved medications for treating cocaine addiction.

Full story of cocaine addiction fight at Science Daily

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