Health News: Helping to Curb Cocaine Abuse with Enzymes?
According to recent medical news from a site called Ivanhoe.com, cocaine is the most abused major stimulant drug in America. Not knowing this site, and not completely trusting it because it takes advertising, I did an online search to see what might appear for “most abused drug in America.” A site titled AddictionInfo.org says that the most abused prescription drug is Adderall, which I wrote about. So who knows? Did the first site mean illegal drug? That’s the problem with being a writer. I nitpick and want to know exactly what is meant.
In any event, researchers at the University of Kentucky are saying that enzyme therapy holds promise for treatment of cocaine addiction. The technical Journal article is here. It suggests that a certain enzyme can “prevent the drug of abuse [in this case, cocaine] from entering [the] brain to produce physiological effects.” In other words, this therapy can prevent cocaine users from getting high and thus will help in treatment.
Science Daily says there’s a series of enzymes, not one, and that the scientists have actually discovered them. (To read the article, you have to go to the page of press releases and enter “cocaine”. The title of the release is Modeling of New Enzymes Helps Develop Therapies for Cocaine Abuse but there’s no direct link.) The article reminds readers that currently there is no FDA-approved medication for cocaine addiction, so understandably it’s a high priority. The strategy, or “insights from the research,” also holds promise for other drug addiction. I love how the Science Daily writer characterized the enzymes as “detoxifying other drugs.”
In June, a Science Daily article titled Abnormal Brain Structure Linked to Chronic Cocaine Abuse reported that researchers at the University of Cambridge found that cocaine users exhibit abnormal brain structures in the frontal lobe, which may also provide insight into cocaine abuse.
Help can’t come too soon, according to articles called Cocaine: Hidden in Plain Sight, which points out how huge a part of the social scene cocaine is. In June, Craiglist posters were actually inviting others to join them in indulging in coke. The posts included phrases and euphemisms like “Where are the cool Brooklyn ski bums? I’ve got tons to share.” And “Take a ride on the snow train.” Wow.
I thought pot was rampant, but people quoted in the article said you see cocaine being used in bars, parties, and just everywhere. Dr. Herb Kleber, an addiction specialist in NY, said people aren’t hiding it; the stigma isn’t there. That, in turn, leads some people to believe that it’s not that harmful.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. As the article indicates, “Besides its addictive potential, cocaine can cause elevated blood pressure, seizures, stroke, cardiac arrest or other heart problems, particularly in people with a predisposition.” And combining it with alcohol “increases its toxicity, particularly in the liver.”