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Hypertension drug propanolol supported for treating cocaine addiction

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Study supports using propanolol for cocaine addiction

    A common prescription drug - propanolol - used to treat high blood pressure, anxiety and migraine headaches, shows promise for helping individuals with cocaine addiction. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) researchers found the medication, known as a beta-blocker, stops the brain from remembering addiction to the drug.

    Cocaine addiction is difficult to treat because of the way it affects the brain. Relapse is common. To date, there are no pharmacologic treatments for addiction to the drug.

    According to Devin Mueller, UWM assistant professor of psychology and a co-author with James Otis of the research, propanolol is the first medication found to block memory retrieval in the brain associated with the addiction. The medication has been found to help with withdrawal symptoms for cocaine addicts, leading the researchers to further explore its effect on memory.

    “Right now, there are no FDA-approved medications that are known to successfully treat cocaine abuse,” says Mueller, “only those that are used to treat the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, which are largely ineffective at preventing relapse.”

    Mueller explains propanolol could be an adjunct to currently used 'exposure therapy', used to treat anxiety, PTSD and other problematic behaviors by exposing patients to the offending stimulus. Over time, exposure therapy for addiction "retrains" the brain to dissociate drugs with pleasure.

    Propanolol effects long-lasting
    According to the study authors, propanolol had a long lasting effect for blocking memories associated with cocaine addiction. In the study, the scientists confirmed beta receptor cell stimulation drives cocaine addiction. The drug propanolol blocks that action.

    "When administered before a CPP [conditioned place preference] trial, propranolol, but not saline, prevented retrieval of a cocaine-associated CPP. In subsequent drug-free trials, rats previously treated with propranolol continued to show a retrieval deficit, as no CPP was evident. This retrieval deficit was long lasting and robust."

    A recent study from University of Chicago Medical Center shows nicotine 'hijacks' brain circuitry in the same way as cocaine, leading to addiction.

    The study is published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology. The authors concluded their study findings "support the use of propanolol" for treating cocaine addiction", in conjunction with other therapies. The study suggests the beta-blocker would prevent relapse. Mueller notes the effects seen in the studies were permanent.

    Neuropsychopharmacology 36, 1912-1920 (August 2011) | doi:10.1038/npp.2011.77
    "Inhibition of β-Adrenergic Receptors Induces a Persistent Deficit in Retrieval of a Cocaine-Associated Memory Providing Protection against Reinstatement"
    James M Otis and Devin Mueller

    Submitted by Kathleen Blanchard RN on 2011-07-16


    I have requested for the study to be uploaded to the Archives


  1. trdofbeingtrd
    On a separate but same note, they are saying that modafinil (only certain physicians and scientists) act as cocaine does and is being called by some the "new cocaine". Of course, for the average person, you don't get the same "kick" and "high" from modafinil, but, because of how the modafinil and cocaine causes the brain to not "flush" itself, they are being seen by a decent amount of professionals as having very same characteristics.

    On the same subject, this is a freaking find MOD man (Terrapinzflyer). This is not old news by any means. If this drug does as it's supposed to, it will be a huge leap in helping cocaine addicts that have been chemically affected (effected?) to much.

    Great find, no doubt the OP or others will be on here to post updates.
  2. gotshakes
    Not sure I agree about the statements made about modafinil. It works through many different ways, including the dopamine/NE transporter (like cocaine), but that is by no means the main way it is done.

    modafinil is not regarded as recreational; rather i think modafinil is also a drug to give to recovering coke addicts as it helps bring back their mental clarity while not providing the 'speedy' type feeling characteristic of coke and amphetamines.

    the propanolol thing is awesome, am i interpreting it correctly in that it could be used prophylactically to stop nicotine addiction? as in taking a propanolol daily and then smoking for a month straight would decrease the odds of me being addicted to cigs?
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