May 4, 2004 Results of a NIDA-funded study show that a combination of substance abuse counseling and baclofen--a medication often used to treat muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis--can reduce cocaine use.
The study involved 70 people who participated in a 16-week treatment program for cocaine addiction. Thirty-five received counseling and baclofen, and 35 received counseling and a placebo. Cocaine use was monitored by thriceweekly urine tests.
Analyses showed that people who received the counseling/baclofen combination had lower levels of drug use during the treatment period than the individuals in the counseling/placebo group, as indicated by urine testing. The response was most apparent among people who were chronic, heavy users of crack cocaine.
The researchers say baclofen may help by inhibiting the release of the brain chemical dopamine, thus reducing the desire for cocaine.
WHAT IT MEANS: The combined effect of drug abuse counseling and a medication that targets dopamine release in the brain may offer hope to the many people struggling with cocaine dependence. There are currently no Food and Drug Administration-approved medications to treat cocaine addiction.
Dr. Steven Shoptaw and his colleagues at the University of California–Los Angeles published these results in the December 15, 2003 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
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