Medications that Help with Cocaine Addiction
Once a person enters cocaine addiction treatment, maintaining abstinence over the long-term requires the type of commitment and motivation that many recovering addicts just can’t muster. The damaging effects of cocaine strip away a person’s will and motivation making it all the more difficult to stay off drugs.
For these reasons, cocaine addiction programs offer medication therapies that help support damaged brain and body functions, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Depending on the stage of recovery a person is in, medication therapies can serve different purposes throughout the recovery process.
Medications can benefit people going through the detox stage as well as help lower the likelihood of relapse further along in recovery. In effect, medication treatments alleviate much of the discomfort addicts experience in recovery since cocaine addictions often leave a lasting imprint on a person’s overall health and well-being.
Cocaine Addiction Processes
From the moment a person takes the first dose of cocaine, the brain’s chemical processes go through a series of changes brought on by the drug’s ability to over-stimulate neurotransmitter secretions. Ongoing cocaine use all but exhausts the brain’s ability to regulate neurotransmitter levels on its own. In turn, cocaine’s effects take over where the brain’s normal processes leave off.
According to the University of Cambridge, constant over-stimulation actually causes brain cell sites to deteriorate, which accounts for their inability to function normally. In the process, users must ingest larger amounts of cocaine to compensate for the brain’s weakened state. In effect, the cocaine addiction process becomes a vicious cycle that promotes ongoing drug use and increasingly larger doses along the way.
Medication Used to Treat Cocaine Withdrawal
Cocaine withdrawal develops during the detox stage and can also persist for months after a person stops using. Withdrawal symptoms can be so distressing as to drive a person back to old-using behaviors. Symptoms of withdrawal often take the form of:
- Anxiety episodes
- Extreme drug cravings
- Muscle aches and pains
- Feelings of anger or rage
Medications offered in cocaine addiction treatment help ease many of the withdrawal symptoms a person experiences. Medications commonly used include:
- Haloperidol – to help eliminate psychotic-type symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions
- Desipramine – to help relieve feelings of depression
- Clonidine – to help alleviate the physical symptoms of withdrawal (muscle aches and pains, tremors, insomnia)
Medication Used to Prevent Relapse
With cocaine addictions, the risk of relapse can stay with a person for years into the recovery process. Medications used to prevent relapse help to reduce the level of drug cravings a person experiences from day-to-day.
Cocaine addiction programs typically prescribe one or more of the following medications to help recovering addicts avoid relapse:
- Baclofen – reduces drug cravings by altering GABA neurotransmitter levels in the brain
- Tiagabine – another GABA neurotransmitter agent
- Topiramate – alters both GABA and glutamate neurotransmitter levels
As with any medication regimen, a trial and error process may be necessary to determine which drug best meets a person’s specific needs.