Ritalin along with behavioural therapy-cure for cocaine addiction

For all the cocaine junkies who find it extremely difficult to get rid of this addiction, this may be the solution to their problem. A new research study suggests that Ritalin, a stimulant may be the cure to help people overcome the addiction of the highly powerful and extremely addictive Cocaine.

According to a study conducted by Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City, it was found that Ritalin had successfully interrupted the addiction cycle of cocaine, thus helping in curing the dreadful addiction.

All it takes is a single dose of this powerful stimulant drug to help modify the neural circuits of the brain which are responsible for the cravings and the self control among the cocaine addicts.

The studies also suggest that Ritalin which is composed of methylphenidate helps in stabilising the out of control neural pathways and normalising the brain functions. This drug is usually prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

However the researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found that the drug can also help people fight cocaine addiction.

Study details:
Study lead investigator, Dr. Rita Goldstein, professor in psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City said, “These findings may also be generalizable to other types of addiction, orally administered Ritalin increases dopamine in the brain, similar to cocaine, but without the strong addictive properties.”

‘We wanted to determine whether such substitutive properties, which are helpful in other replacement therapies such as using nicotine gum instead of smoking cigarettes or methadone instead of heroin, would play a role in enhancing brain connectivity between regions of potential importance for intervention in cocaine addiction.’, she said.

In an experiment conducted by Dr. Goldstein and her team, 18 cocaine addicts were recruited and were randomly given either a single dose of 20mg methylphenidate Ritalin or a placebo.

Later with the help of MRI scans, the brain activity of the addicts were measured and the strength of connectivity in particular neural circuits were monitored to check the effect of the drug before taking the drug and after.

Ritalin helped in decreasing the neural connectivity in the brain which is linked with addiction, compulsive drug seeking and craving. The severity of the effects of the drug were constantly monitored to see if the drug had any shortcomings.

Revelations of the study:
During the course of the study, it was also found that the drug helped in strengthening the connectivity between several brain regions, thus controlling the emotions and behaviours which while addicted to cocaine were completely haywire.

Dr Goldstein said, ‘The benefits of Ritalin were present after only one dose, indicating that this drug has significant potential as a treatment add-on for addiction to cocaine and possibly other stimulants’.

‘This is a preliminary study, but the findings are exciting and warrant further exploration, particularly in conjunction with cognitive behavioural therapy or cognitive remediation.’

In further studies, co author of the study Anna Konova, a psychology graduate student at Stony Brook University in N.Y said that they would want to see if the effects of the Ritalin drug on the brain activity can be sustained long term. She said that they have tried using methylphenidate as a stand alone treatment for curing cocaine addiction but failed and found inconsistent results.

She said, “We’re looking to see how it can work in conjunction with behavioral therapies for addiction,”.

Thus the cure to cocaine addiction would be a dose of Ritalin along with behavioural therapy.

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