Effects of Cocaine and Effective Treatment Methods

During the 1980s and 1990s there was a huge increase in the amount of people who were interested in seeking medical treatment for an addiction to cocaine. Treatment centers located throughout most of the country, (not including the West and Southwest), claim that the addicts, who check into their treatment facilities, list cocaine as the most commonly abused drug. The common drug of choice among those who are seeking treatment for an addiction, are crack smokers. These patients are likely to be users of more than one substance. Because the use of cocaine is so widespread, it has motivated extensive efforts to develop effective treatment programs for this type of drug abuse. Cocaine abuse and addiction is a complex problem: it involves biological changes in the brain as well as a countless number of social, familial, and environmental factors. Therefore, treatment of cocaine addiction is difficult, and must concentrate on a variety of problems. Like any high-quality treatment plan, cocaine treatment strategies need to assess the psychological, social, and pharmacological aspects of the patient’s drug abuse.

Medication for Addiction Treatment

Currently, there are no specific medications that are able to target the actual cocaine addiction. NIDA, the National Institute of Drug Abuse, is actively pursuing the identification and testing of new cocaine treatment medications. “Several newly emerging compounds are being investigated to assess their safety and efficacy in treating cocaine addiction. TopiramateÃ?® and modafanilÃ?®, two marketed medications, have shown promising signals as potential cocaine treatment agents. Additionally, baclofenÃ?®, a GABA-B agonist, showed promise in a subgroup of cocaine addicts with heavy use patterns.”(NIDA. http://www.nida.nih.gov/researchreports/Cocaine/cocaine4.html#treatments.) Mood changes are a known physiological change that occurs during the early stages of cocaine abstinence, so some antidepressant drugs have proven to benefit some. Not only are there problems with treating the actual cocaine addiction, every year there are cocaine overdoses that result in death. Therefore, medical treatments are in the process of being developed in order to help with severe emergencies from cocaine overdoses.

Behavioral Treatments

For some cocaine addicts, methods of behavioral treatments have been found to be effective and beneficial for their addictions of cocaine. Behavioral interventions include both residential, or hospitalization inpatient, as well as outpatient approaches. For most it seems that behavioral therapies are often the only available, effective treatment to many drug problems, including cocaine addiction. This is because there is still no medication that works in the treatment of addictions. It does seem, however, that when both behavior treatments and medicating treatments are combined, this may result in the most effective form for treating an addiction. Disulfiram�®, a medication that has been used to treat alcoholism, when combined with a behavior treatment, has been clinically proven to be the most effective in reducing the use of cocaine in already addicted patients. For a drug treatment to be successful, the treatment must be specific to the individual patient. For instance, if one of the patients has a hard time holding a job, one part of the rehab should be helping them by career counseling, or vocational rehabilitation. A common behavioral therapy method that is known to produce positive results in many cocaine-addicts is a reward program which encourages positive behavior. An example of these programs would be giving points or a voucher to a patient who has remained abstinent from cocaine, or is moving forward with their rehabilitation. These points or vouchers could then be redeemed for rewards, like going to a movie or out to dinner. These positive rewards encourage healthy behavior, rather than the harmful behavior they were used to.

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