Cocaine, one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs, is also one of the most difficult addictions to overcome. According to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), cocaine-related overdose deaths rose almost 9 percent in the United States in 2014 as compared to 2013. In 2014, there were 5,415 deaths from cocaine overdoses, while 18,893 people had died due to the misuse of prescription opioids.
People use cocaine, along with other drugs, for recreational purposes. The fact that cocaine is cheaper and more widely available makes it a popular drug. Now, scientists have come up with a chemical compound that can detoxify and inactivate cocaine without hampering the normal functioning of the central nervous system.
Detoxification of cocaine
While quitting cocaine, detoxification is the foremost thing. Detoxification is a process that systematically and safely withdraws an addict from the drugs being abused, which normally happens under the care of a physician. The process is followed by behavioral and pharmacological (medications) treatments. When the addicts first try to quit, they undergo withdrawal symptoms and its level of severity varies for different individuals. Medication helps ease cravings during detoxification, otherwise it can lead to relapse.
A team of scientists at the University of Kentucky has discovered a chemical treatment for cocaine addiction. According to their findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in December 2015, enzyme cocaine hydrolases block the high triggered by the drug. It prevents the physiological and toxic effects of cocaine without affecting the normal functioning of the brain. Even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is yet to approve the therapy for Cocaine withdrawal abuse, researchers are very strong on this chemical.
The hydrolases are known to be safe for human consumption. The therapeutic use of cocaine hydrolases was found to have a short biological half-life of eight hours in humans. Scientists added immunoglobulin G antibodies to the compound to accelerate cocaine metabolism.
The study said, “An ideal anti-cocaine medication would accelerate cocaine metabolism, producing biologically inactive metabolites by administration of an efficient cocaine-specific exogenous enzyme.”
Ray of hope
The aim of the researchers was to develop a long-term treatment that would prevent relapse. They also made sure that the new method works without inhibiting the normal functioning of brain and heart unlike pharmacological approaches to addiction treatment. Shifting the focus to providing immediate access to treatment of cocaine addiction, rather than just emergency treatment of overdose, can go a long way in saving thousands of lives.
To get rid of addiction, it is important to detoxify the body and seek professional help to avoid any relapse and overcome withdrawal symptoms. Counseling, therapy groups and medications can be of great help in dealing with withdrawal symptoms, which can be done in a better way at any of the rapid detox centers. If left untreated, an addiction can lead to severe medical problems and even death.