Topiramate is a drug that is normally used to treat epilepsy but recently it has been used to help assist in weight loss. However, it may also be used to help people addicted to cocaine and alcohol curb their addictions, especially heavy users. A recent study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence by researchers from the department of Psychiatry at Penn Medicine reports that the results from a placebo controlled double blind trial adds on to the growing amount of evidence that supports topiramate as a possible medication for addiction treatment.
Studies that have been done in the past have proved that topiramate can decrease alcohol dependence in addition to reducing cocaine relapse. However, its use of treating people who are dependent upon both cocaine and alcohol has not been clinically explored in trials. Cocaine and alcohol addiction have striking similarities, so therapies that aim to eliminate both is likely the best strategy that could be used to treat addicts. Results of a clinical trial that lasted 13 weeks with 170 alcohol and cocaine dependent individuals produced an array of different results.
Topiramate reduced the amount of alcohol cravings people experienced but did not impact the amount of their drinking or the frequency at which they drank, it also was not any better at reducing cocaine cravings. However, compared to individuals on a placebo, during the last three weeks of the trial addicts who were on topiramate were much more likely to continue treatment and abstain from cocaine use. Addicts with serious withdrawal symptoms from cocaine, such as depression, restlessness and agitation were reported to benefit the most from topiramate. According to professor of Psychiatry at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennyslvania Kyle Kampman, drug counseling remains to be the treatment of choice in the United States and Europe.
Cocaine dependency in the United States and Europe remains to be a significant public health concern. Not all patients completely respond to drug counseling so Kyle Kampman says it is important to develop medications that are effective for addiction treatment and that research is a main priority. With the history of prior studies, researchers are puzzled by the fact that topiramate did not positively hinder alcohol dependence and attributes its little effectiveness to the severity of the alcoholic’s addiction. However, topiramate is still more effective for those who are heavier drinkers.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.