Baclofen holds promise for cocaine treatment

December 15, 2003

The anti-spasticity medication baclofen holds promise for helping cocaine abusers overcome their addiction, a study by a UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute researcher finds. No medication currently holds U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for treatment of cocaine addiction.

Published in the Dec. 15 edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the randomized, double-blind study found that baclofen used in conjunction with substance abuse counseling significantly reduced cocaine use in recovering addicts compared to placebo coupled with counseling. The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as part of a project to screen medications with potential for treating cocaine dependence.

"The research shows for the first time, using scientifically rigorous methods, that Baclofen can help people reduce their cocaine use when they are in drug abuse counseling," said Steven Shoptaw, the study's principal investigator and a clinical psychologist at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. "Our findings give us a strong starting place to conduct more definite studies on whether this medication can help cocaine addicts when used outside controlled research clinics. This offers new hope to hundreds of thousands of cocaine abusers who struggle with addiction."

According to the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, cocaine addiction affects 1.7 million American adults. In Los Angeles County, cocaine abuse ranks second only to alcohol as the most frequent cause for substance abuse treatment.

Baclofen has been approved and prescribed for years to treat spasticity, particularly in muscular sclerosis patients. Major side effects include fatigue and headache. Baclofen may help cocaine addicts by inhibiting the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, undercutting the "high" caused by cocaine.

The study involved 70 outpatients who underwent a 16-week cocaine addiction treatment program. Half the participants received baclofen and counseling and half received a placebo, or sugar pill, and counseling. Cocaine use by the patients was monitored using three urine tests each week throughout the study.

The researchers found that the baclofen group, compared to the placebo group, overall had significantly fewer urine samples that indicated recent cocaine use, particularly for those participants who started the study with chronic, heavy rates of crack cocaine use.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has funded studies evaluating 60 medications for cocaine addiction. Baclofen is the third medication that has been recommended for a large, multicenter study. An eight-site replication study with larger patient populations led by Shoptaw at UCLA and funded by the institute is scheduled to begin in February 2004.

Shoptaw conducts his research as part of the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, a unit of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, and as a principal investigator with Friends Research Institute.
-end-
The UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute is an interdisciplinary research and education institute devoted to the understanding of complex human behavior, including the genetic, biological, behavioral and sociocultural underpinnings of normal behavior, and the causes and consequences of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Online resources:
·UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute: www.npi.ucla.edu
·UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs: www.uclaisap.org/
·National Institute on Drug Abuse: www.drugabuse.gov
·Friends Research Institute: www.friendsresearch.org/

University of California - Los Angeles

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.