Cocaine is one of the most difficult psychoactive substances to quit using. Up to 80 percent of people in recovery from a cocaine addiction end up relapsing at some point after treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is responsible for about a quarter of all drug-related emergency department visits, and close to two million Americans reported using cocaine in the past month in 2008.
Because of the high prevalence of cocaine addiction and the challenges in treating it, researchers have spent a great deal of time and energy looking for new ways to reduce the intense cravings and depression associated with quitting cocaine to improve the success of treatment.
Medications Used During Medical Detox
The withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine dependence are very intense, and medical detox is almost always essential for successfully ending the physical dependence. Medically supervised detox involves administering various medications to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms so that treatment therapies can begin to address the far more complex issues underlying addiction.
According to an article published in the journal American Family Physician, detox for cocaine dependence is generally a matter of supportive measures rather than a specific treatment. This is largely because no medications have been approved by the FDA for the specific purpose of treating cocaine dependence or addiction.
However, a number of medications are commonly used during the detox period. For those who experience a high level of irritability during detox, small doses of diazepam may be given for a few days to reduce its intensity. For those with persistent cocaine-related depression, antidepressants can be administered for up to six months, after which the dosages will be gradually tapered off over the course of a few weeks.
New Cocaine Addiction Treatments with Promise
A number of new pharmacological treatment therapies have shown promise for successfully treating cocaine addiction. In 2014, the National Institute on Drug Abuse published the results of a new study showing that baclofen, a drug used to treat spasms in people with spinal cord injuries or neurological disorders, shows promise in preventing relapse among people addicted to cocaine. This medication works by blocking the effects of drug cues, or triggers, which can quickly lead to relapse.
Brain Blogger, a neuroscience blog edited by the executive director of the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, reports that another drug known as propranolol may also block the effects of drug cues. Propranolol, a beta blocker, blocks the memories associated with cocaine use and may enhance the effectiveness of exposure therapy, during which a patient is repeatedly exposed to cues that induce cravings so that the cravings become less pronounced.
A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that topiramate, which is used to treat epilepsy and migraines, may also help treat cocaine addiction by reducing the intensity of cravings and improving the overall functioning of the body. The study found that topiramate was effective for increasing the length of abstinence among those in recovery.
Therapy is Essential
Although using medication as part of an addiction treatment plan can improve the chances of successful recovery, the crux of addiction treatment is behavioral and cognitive therapies, which help you identify and address the complex issues underlying an addiction. Through therapy, people with an addiction learn to identify and replace self-destructive thoughts and behaviors, and they develop an essential toolkit of skills and strategies that help reduce stress, cravings and other potent relapse triggers.
If you have developed an addiction to cocaine, getting professional help is essential for successful long-term recovery. Through a combination of medication and therapy, a high-quality treatment program can help you beat the addiction once and for all.
Recovery isn’t easy, but then, neither is being addicted to cocaine. Treatment affords you the opportunity to restore your life, repair your relationships, and vastly improve your overall quality of life and sense of well-being.
Give us a call or come visit our Detox Treatment Center In Los Angles California