Baclofen Has Potential to Prevent Cocaine Relapse

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A study conducted by researchers at Penn Medicine's Center for Studies of Addiction found that baclofen drug can benefit those who aim to prevent cocaine relapse. Baclofen is a commonly used neurological medication that proved successful at blocking triggers that fire in the brain's reward system.

Before going into detail about this breakthrough finding, it is important to know why it is so crucial toward preventing relapse which is the addict's number one fear when in recovery.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 40 to 60 percent of addicted individuals who received treatment and recovered, will most likely relapse; other similar studies show an 80 percent risk in relapsing at only 6 months post-treatment. Relapse is the number one fear of many recovering addicts because to put it quite simply, if you can prevent relapse, you beat addiction and stay sober for as long as you want (hopefully forever).

Avoiding triggers includes avoiding things, people and places that would entice the recovering addict to use again. However, the brain is something you cannot avoid; subconscious triggers related to the brain's reward system can a person to feel stressed, irritated, and crave satisfaction (either psychologically, physically, or both). Due to this monumental issue, which has plagued recovering addicts since the idea of recovery started, scientists and neurologists have been working a chemical solution to prevention for relapse. Other approaches have worked, such as traditional therapy and alternative therapies like meditation, but a chemical solution could mark another route that can allow relapse prevention to be faster and easier to achieve for recovering addicts.

The results of experimentation using real live subjects yielded positive results. The team found that "patients who were treated with baclofen showed a significantly lower response in the reward and motivational circuits to subliminal cocaine cues versus neutral cues."

"These findings suggest that the brain response to drug cues presented outside of awareness can be pharmacologically inhibited, providing a mechanism for baclofen's potential therapeutic benefit in addiction," stated one of the researchers. As studies continue, addiction treatment therapies such as relapse prevention courses are one of the few (and only) recommended approaches in helping to prevent relapse. Controlling one's urges to not use a desired substance relies on their willingness to continue, as well as their decision-making skills, such as avoiding parties that involved substance use, or avoiding people who have drugs (even though they might be a close relative or family member of the recovering addict), and replacing such behaviors with productive sober activities. It is recommended to join group therapy, a sporting activity, or other hobbies that stimulate the individual both creatively and recreationally.

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