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Chinese Prescription Drug Could Curb Cocaine Addiction

by | Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Conditions and Disorders, Latest News, Life, Treatment

Home Addiction Chinese Prescription Drug Could Curb Cocaine Addiction

The title of this article reminded me of Passage Recovery Home’s claim to fame: “We’ll cure your addiction!” Apparently there is a treatment brewing on the east coast that may be as close to a “cure” for a specific addiction as any. In Maryland, a litany of researchers have spent their time and energy pursuing a medication designed to treat cocaine addiction. The University of Maryland was granted 3.7 million dollars over a five-year period to invest in researching and designing such a miracle. Jia Bei Wang, PhD, has led the study since 2005. A professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the School of Pharmacy, she “follows research in mice showing a compound called l-tetrahydropalmatine (l-THP), found in some Chinese medicines, decreases cravings for cocaine and suppresses the ‘reward pathway’ in the brain responsible for the addictive nature of the drug,” states Kathleen Blanchard, RN. Blanchard’s article posted on EMax Health’s online resource, also mentions Dr. Wang’s long-standing history of studying I-THP exclusively. Wang provided the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute on Drug Abuse with samples six month ago. “[Wang’s] research team will work on developing the treatment, in addition to conducting Phase I human trials that could begin next year,” states Blanchard. I imagine many people will check themselves in as candidates for the drug trials. Perhaps those most likely to participate in the study will be ones suffering from an addiction that has interfered with their work and personal lives in a raw way. In addition, people who have been backed into a corner by family members to attend a drug rehab program or take drug awareness classes may be interested in playing “guinea pig” for this drug as a replacement for Narcotics Anonymous/Cocaine Anonymous meetings. One thing that really concerns me is that some doctors and patients will look at this drug as an easy way out. Patients will treat their addiction with medication only, thus sustaining little incentive to plunge into a 12-step program. Statistics have proven that 12-step fellowships are the most effective treatment out there for drug addiction. I don’t have an aversion to the medication, but I think a combination of CA meetings and working the 12 steps, in conjunction with medication, may be a positive route in comparison to solely following a 12-step program. Hopefully doctors will use discretion in distributing the drugs and continue recommending a 12-step program as a mandatory condition of filling the cocaine addiction Rx.
As Blanchard touches upon the study’s nuances, she quotes Wang; “the compound alters the activity of dopamine and other neurotransmitters that are instrumental in the human body’s response to addictive drugs.” This sounds like a great way to treat cocaine addiction. The only downside is the fact that the body responds to other stimuli in a similar pattern. What happens to the reactions to sex, laughter, and other dopamine-producing behaviors? I would be concerned about the side effects, none of which are mentioned in the EMax Health article, as well as long-term affects of such a drug. Then again if you screw around with the body’s natural dopamine-generating capabilities via drugs, you’ve already tainted the natural response system. Thus, what’s a treatment drug going to do, since one’s body chemistry has already been illegally altered?
I think if approved, the first-of-its-kind drug would be a fabulous asset to American society….in theory. Perhaps other countries would have an easier time adopting the drug as modern medicine and taking it from there, depending on their laws regarding cocaine. What about the distribution of such a medication? Would people be willing to open up to their doctors about a problem with cocaine addiction? Or would most continue to hide their struggles in an attempt to evade legal ramifications or as a reservation for relapse? What about the cost to taxpayers? How likely is society to weigh the cost and benefits of such a drug and be willing to support local doctors, pharmacies, and health care services tying up their time and intellectual property engaging in expensive cocaine addiction treatment? Food for thought.