The Future of Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated December 12, 2018

For many of us, we fantasize about the future and what it could bring; teleportation and flying electric cars, food creation beams like those on Star Trek, space vacations, etc. Some people dealing with addiction might have a different outlook of what they look forward to, such as a cure-all from their illness in a pill they can take one afternoon the moment they think they might have a problem. Unfortunately, battling addiction is a long process that never ends, provides pitfalls everyday which have to be avoided after initial treatment and threatens to return at any time of the recovering addict is in a particularly troubled time.

There is a glimmer of hope in the distant future for the cocaine user, though. Researchers at the University of Chicago may have developed a gene-therapy process to ‘immunize’ against the addictive nature of cocaine. Like all new medical and scientific developments with final aims to be for human consumption, the tests begin with lab mice. The process utilizes stem cells altered to produce high levels of hBChe protein in skin, which is believed to block the ‘pleasure’ cocaine effects on the brain that creates a chemical and behavioral change in the user. With cocaine use, the pleasure is derived from the release of neurotransmitters called dopamine which signal pleasure from receptors and trick the brain into thinking the use of cocaine is desirable. The protein protects this sensation as it specifically breaks down the cocaine via metabolistic measures, neutralizing not only its effects but also its ability to produce any pleasure in the user. At least, that’s the hypothesis based on the performance of the lab rats.

Further research is required and nothing has been absolutely proven as of yet, but the current idea the research is hoping to graduate to is to develop synthetic skin to graft into cocaine addicts to enable them to produce the protein that immunizes them against cocaine effects. In the research that was conducted already, the scientists believe it has had a positive effect on the mice tested for relapse as well. The mice that were treated with the stem cells not only stopped seeking cocaine, but without further intervention, did not seek out cocaine after withdrawal symptoms subsided. The control group without stem cells were easily back into using cocaine.

While all of this sounds promising, the truth of reality is that this kind of treatment option is likely to not be available for at least 15-20 years. For now, cocaine addiction requires behavioral therapy, support groups, emotional therapy and constant monitoring of the individual of their own habits and moods. If you or someone you know might be addicted to cocaine in the Newport Beach area, call Northbound at 866-311-0003.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.