Weight Loss Drug Topamax Can Help Alcohol and Cocaine Addiction, Says New Study


2013-07-22 13:25

Researchers say that the drug Topamax (topiramate), which normally is utilized for treating epilepsy and helping with weight loss, can also help people addicted to both cocaine and alcohol use less cocaine.

Topamax Offers Hope
Previous studies have indicated that Topamax can be used to treat addiction, according to the researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. In addition, various studies have indicated that topiramate can alleviate dependence on alcohol and cocaine. However, this study marks the first occasion on which it was used to treat both alcohol- and cocaine-dependent people, noted PsychCentral.

Why target both? Because cocaine and alcohol addictions often "go hand in hand."

Study Specifics
,Addicts who took topiramate during the clinical trial were more apt to remain in treatment and stay away from cocaine. "Cocaine dependence continues to be a significant public health concern in the United States and Europe. Drug counseling remains the treatment of choice, but many patients do not respond completely to it, so developing effective medications for treatment is a research priority,” said first author Kyle M. Kampman, M.D., professor of psychiatry and medical director at the Charles O’Brien Center for Addiction Treatment. “Based on the study’s results, this drug, plus cognitive-behavioral therapy, may be a good option for people addicted to both alcohol and cocaine to help reduce their cocaine use.”

What is Topiramate?
Topiramate is an anticonvulsant drug. It boosts your brain's level of of GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid. GABA is a primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Although the FDA has only approved it for treating migraines, epilepsy and weight loss, GABA also may help by reducing the dopamine release associated with cocaine and alcohol use. In turn, this would reduce the reinforcing euphoric effects of the two.

Tragedy of Addiction
We need look no further than the latest news on the death of "Glee" star Cory Monteith from a deadly overdose of heroin and alcohol. Commenting on that tragedy in a blog for Dr. Oz's Web site on July 19, addiction intervention expert Brad Lamm noted, "Addiction is a lot like cancer – while treatable it can recur at anytime. Accountability and prevention are essential. For the addict that means an open and transparent lifestyle that facilitates recovery and cooperation and support from loved ones. This includes random drug testing and actively participating in his or her recovery plan. This gives the recovering addict better odds at health and happiness, but like cancer, there is never a guarantee."

However, with the new discovery of how topiramate may help combat addiction, there is new hope.