Two drugs currently being used for other purposes are now being tested in humans to treat cocaine addiction. Buprenorphine and naltrexone together have researchers excited that they have found a real treatment for cocaine and possibly meth addictions as well.
According to Time.com, “That complication precluded the possibility of testing buprenorphine on its own in cocaine addicts. It was scientifically plausible, however, to think that using it in combination with another medication that blocks some of its opioid effects could prevent this problem. As it turns out, naltrexone (reVia, Vivitrol) fits the bill.
“Buprenorphine itself is a marvel of multiplicity. At low doses, it acts like an opioid, cutting physical and emotional pain and reducing anxiety by activating a class of opioid receptors, known as mu receptors. At high doses, it has the opposite effect: preventing opioid-like action and inducing withdrawal symptoms rather than relief. That’s what makes it an especially safe drug for maintenance of people with opioid addictions. But buprenorphine has another action as well: it blocks the kappa opioid receptor, a target that has long intrigued pharmacologists because it seems to be one of the ‘brakes’ on the pleasure-producing dopamine system.”
Researchers have already studied this drug cocktail in rats with positive results. Now ongoing are the human trials and the test results haven’t been posted yet, though early reports are encouraging.