Good news for people trying to stop using cocaine.: a recent study found that the drug topiramate, or Topomax, that is usually prescribed to treat epilepsy and chronic migraines, can also help reduce cravings for cocaine!
What is Topiramate?
This pharmaceutical is the active ingredient in Topamax, an anticonvulsant drug used to prevent seizures and migraine headaches. It works by regulating different area of electrical activity in the brain.
Neurotransmitters in the human brain are used to send signals to various parts of the brain and the body. When we exercise, for example, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released, along with endorphins, and we feel more energy and happiness, and less pain. When the body is in need of food, the neurotransmitter serotonin is used to send the message of hunger to the brain, in the hopes that the individual will then eat.
Drugs and Neurotransmitters
Drugs of all kinds also impact neurotransmitter levels and functioning. Alcohol alters GABA and serotonin levels, heroin changes natural endorphin, dopamine, and enkephalin levels, and cocaine creates an adjustment in dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and acetylcholine levels.
Topiramate and Neurotransmitters
Basically topiramate works in three different ways:
- It decreases the release of the neurotransmitter, glutamate, which is in charge of excitatory functions throughout the human body. Topiramate blocks the receptors that would absorb glutamate, so the person experiences a stabilization in electrical activity, rather than a seizure or a migraine.
- Topiramate enhances the activity of the neurotransmitter, GABA, which is a calming agent. The drug calms nerve activity in the brain, bringing it to a place of balance.
- It prevents sodium from entering the brain’s nerve cells, which when built up, triggers rapid and repetitive signals, like a seizure or a migraine.
How Can Topiramate Help Treat Cocaine Addiction?
As mentioned, cocaine’s chemical composition alters various neurotransmitter levels in its users. The combination of effects from topiramate yields great promise for not only people with epilepsy and migraine headaches, but also for people who experience too much brain excitement from cocaine abuse.
The decrease of glutamate that slows electrical activity, the increase of GABA that calms the brain, and the blocking of sodium buildups that reduce the amount of unnecessary stimulation in the brain reduce a person’s cravings for cocaine while taking topiramate, or Topamax.
Published Study Results
The research team in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine wanted to investigate the effectiveness of topiramate as treatment for cocaine addiction after the drug, and another pharmaceutical, Gabapentin, was deemed appropriate as part of the treatment for alcohol addiction.
The team, lead by Dr. Bankole A. Johnson, broke a group of 142 cocaine-dependent participants, aged 18 and older, into 2 divisions: one receiving a daily dose of topiramate and the other a placebo.
Results showed that the topiramate-taking group had more days and weeks without cocaine use because users reported less cravings for cocaine than the people in the placebo-taking group. While side effects were present for those taking topiramate, users reported increased functioning, so Dr. Johnson and his team concluded that topiramate is a safe tool for use in cocaine treatment.
Dr. Johnson is excited that these results, and more to come, provide a better understanding of how the brain works, how it is affected by drugs, and how to correct those effects to best treat those suffering from addiction to cocaine, and other substances.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
When casual experimentation with cocaine has progressed to abuse, formal treatment is needed to stop the progression to full blown addiction.
Break the cycle of cocaine abuse by contacting Balboa Horizons today. Save your life, or the life of someone you love, by calling 877-309-4593 now!