Researchers continue to locate what mechanisms in the brain are responsible for cocaine addiction and how to develop treatments on a biological level. Currently there are no approved vaccines targeted towards cocaine users, though there has been some progress in that area lately.
Unlike people who are addicted to opiates, who are able to take opioid treatment medications, there really aren’t any similar medical interventions for cocaine addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends exploring both medication and therapy, where applicable.
One research group thinks they may have figured out what causes a cocaine depedency in the brain. This breakthrough may provide some hope for cocaine addicts. The study was completed by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute. The scientists found that there appears to be an increase in hypocretin, a molecule in the brain, in people who are addicted to cocaine.
“The results of this study would suggest that the hypocretin system could be considered a pharmacological target, with the hopes that such a medication could be used in combination with cognitive behavioral therapies,” explained Brooke Schmeichel, co-author of the study. The results were published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.
Hypocretin has been known to impact how the brain reacts to various drugs. Upon further research, it was noted that there seems to be a cycle within the brains of cocaine addicts that is started by cravings for cocaine, followed by an increase in hypocretin and then oftentimes use of the drug as a result. This cycle is one of the biological mechanisms that makes staying clean from cocaine so difficult for some addicts. This same cycle is what researchers are looking to eliminate with a cocaine vaccine or anti-cocaine addiction medication.
While scientific research and advances such as these are important for the future of addiction treatment, the fact is that recovery is happening every day at rehab centers such as Genesis House.