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Epilepsy drug may curb cocaine addiction

October 06, 2003|Dianne Partie Lange

An epilepsy drug may eventually help people addicted to cocaine.

In a new study, eight of 10 longtime drug users stopped taking cocaine after being given the drug -- gamma vinyl-GABA (also known as GVG or vigabatrin) for several weeks. Four patients who stayed in the trial continued to use cocaine but in significantly reduced amounts. The drug is available in 68 countries, but because it has not been approved here, the study was conducted in Mexico.

It takes about three weeks for GVG to take effect, blocking the formation of dopamine, the brain chemical associated with pleasure, says lead investigator, Stephen Dewey, a neuroanatomist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y. Dopamine production is increased by addictive drugs, drug-seeking behavior and drug craving.

"It looks like the drug gives us a window of opportunity to be more effective with a psychosocial intervention," Dewey says.

The study will appear in the Dec. 1 issue of Synapse.

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-- Dianne Partie Lange

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