It seems like every other week there is a claim in the media about some new scientific discovery that will end addiction. These discoveries usually fail to live up to the claims made in the news, but there is now research coming out of New Zealand that is showing real promise for helping people break free of cocaine addiction. This new drug works by eliminating the cravings for the substance in the brain.
The Dangers of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine addiction is a serious problem in many parts of the world. The UK is considered the cocaine capital of the western world with more than 400,000 users under the age of 25 – it has been suggested that as many as 1 in seven people use this drug in the under-30 group. Cocaine is extremely addictive because of its ability to make individuals feel euphoric, more sociable, confident, and full of energy. People may begin taking it as something to get them in the mood for partying, but it does not take long before they want to take it far more often.
Cocaine is not only addictive and illegal; it is also dangerous in a number of other ways, including:
- Increasing the risk of heart attacks
- triggering irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure
- overdosing can easily lead to death
- causing mood swings and erratic behaviour
- losing interest in food, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies
- panic attacks
- symptoms of psychosis
- the comedown from cocaine and trigger symptoms of depression
- risk of seizures
- inability to sleep at night
- hallucinations and confusion
- poor decision making and are more likely to engage in high-risk activities
- being an expensive drug, therefore those becoming hooked can soon develop serious financial problems
- leading to permanent damage to the body.
Cocaine can be a particularly difficult drug to give up because the withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant. The individual may experience intense cravings, depression, insomnia, anxiety, as well as an inability to experience pleasure. The fact that these symptoms are so intense can mean that the person is at high risk of relapse; it is just too easy to escape the suffering by using again. The news that there may be some type of treatment for eliminating cravings could make a huge difference, as it would likely increase long-term recovery.
Will this New Drug from New Zealand Mean a Breakthrough in Cocaine Treatment
Scientists from the University of Canterbury are conducting the new research. It is believed that the trace amine-associated receptor 1 in the brain is responsible for cravings, so the idea is that activating this receptor would reduce the desire to use the drug again. There is also hope that this receptor could be used for the treatment of alcoholism and other addictions. So far, the substance has only been tested on rodents, but the results have been encouraging.
It will likely take a few years before any treatment is derived from the research from the University of Canterbury – if it even does lead to a viable treatment. It is great that scientists continue to put so much effort into finding solutions but there have been so many false dawns. There are already other substances out there capable of reducing cravings, so this drug will need to do better than these to be really considered a breakthrough treatment.