UTHealth receives NIH grant to develop individualized therapies for cocaine addiction

November 08, 2016

HOUSTON - (Nov. 7, 2016) - Identifying more effective treatment strategies tailored to individual responses for patients overcoming addiction to cocaine is the focus of a new clinical trial at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

The study, funded with a $1.9 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA; R01DA039125), is led by Joy M. Schmitz, Ph.D., Louis A. Faillace Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Research on Addiction (CNRA) at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

"What we have found is that no single treatment is appropriate for everyone," Schmitz said. "Addiction treatments need to be adjusted based on patient characteristics and response in order to be most effective."

Studies have shown that the most effective treatment to date for cocaine addiction is behavior therapy involving motivational incentives, which can result in initial abstinence rates of 40 percent. This approach uses small reward incentives such as gift cards to encourage positive behavior change, such as abstaining from drugs.

"Chronic cocaine use can throw off the balance of the brain reward system to the point where behavior is fully directed or motivated toward using the drug. Incentive-based therapy is used to help rebalance response to reward by offering natural or non-drug incentives that can compete with that of cocaine," Schmitz said.

The study aims to boost the effectiveness of motivational incentives in certain individuals by adding a therapy that teaches mindfulness skills.

"Acceptance and commitment therapy is a new evidence-based behavioral therapy that focuses on helping the individual handle difficult feelings and thoughts without using drugs to escape. Acceptance is about being willing to experience negative feelings, like strong sensations of craving, without letting the feeling take control or interfere with valued living," Schmitz said.

Researchers predict that for a certain subgroup of patients, the combination of motivational incentives and skills training to tolerate distress will improve patients' chances of achieving abstinence, Schmitz said. "For those who do not respond, however, a third phase of the trial will test whether adding a dopamine-enhancing medication, modafinil, is beneficial," she said.

The clinical trial, called Developing Adaptive Interventions for Cocaine Cessation and Relapse Prevention (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02896712), will enroll 160 patients. NIDA is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Co-Investigators at UTHealth are Angela Stotts, Ph.D., professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Family & Community Medicine; Michael Weaver, M.D., professor and medical director at CNRA; Charles Green, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Center for Clinical Research and Evidence-Based Medicine; and Anka Vujanovic, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

For more information, please call 713-500-DRUG (3784).
-end-


University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Related Cocaine Articles from Brightsurf:

Sleep-deprived mice find cocaine more rewarding
Sleep deprivation may pave the way to cocaine addiction. Too-little sleep can increase the rewarding properties of cocaine, according to new research in mice published in eNeuro.

Nucleus accumbens recruited by cocaine, sugar are different
In a study using genetically modified mice, a University of Wyoming faculty member found that the nucleus accumbens recruited by cocaine use are largely distinct from nucleus accumbens recruited by sucrose, or table sugar.

Astrocytes build synapses after cocaine use in mice
Drugs of abuse, like cocaine, are so addictive due in part to their cellular interaction, creating strong cellular memories in the brain that promote compulsive behaviors.

Of all professions, construction workers most likely to use opioids and cocaine
Construction workers are more likely to use drugs than workers in other professions, finds a study by the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) at NYU College of Global Public Health.

Chronic cocaine use modifies gene expression
Chronic cocaine use changes gene expression in the hippocampus, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.

Blocking dopamine weakens effects of cocaine
Blocking dopamine receptors in different regions of the amygdala reduces drug seeking and taking behavior with varying longevity, according to research in rats published in eNeuro.

Born to run: just not on cocaine
A study finds a surprising response to cocaine in a novel strain of mutant mice -- they failed to show hyperactivity seen in normal mice when given cocaine and didn't run around.

Cocaine adulterant may cause brain damage
People who regularly take cocaine cut with the animal anti-worming agent levamisole demonstrate impaired cognitive performance and a thinned prefrontal cortex.

Setting affects pleasure of heroin and cocaine
Drug users show substance-specific differences in the rewarding effects of heroin versus cocaine depending on where they use the drugs, according to a study published in JNeurosci.

One in 10 people have traces of cocaine or heroin on their fingerprints
Scientists have found that drugs are now so prevalent that 13 percent of those taking part in a test were found to have traces of class A drugs on their fingerprints -- despite never using them.

Read More: Cocaine News and Cocaine Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.