Sobriety over the long term can be difficult for those who have had an addiction to cocaine. However, a recent study tested the ability of the drug Baclofen to inhibit the activation of the brain and the triggering of strong cravings.
Relapses can be a difficult experience, emotionally and financially, for those who have already gone through the process of detox and sober living treatment. Certainly, there are many contributing factors to relapsing, including both conscious and unconscious triggers. For instance, an addiction can have a strong biological and psychological pull. The slightest trigger and craving for the drug can occur almost without notice. Even if a person has made the decision to end their drinking or drug use, it’s easy for a small stimuli to trigger an intense craving. Stress from work, relationship concerns with spouses, family issues, environmental cues, running into old drinking or drugging friends can create an strong desire to use. Of course, having these kinds of triggers, whether in or out of a sober living treatment facility can lead to chronic relapse and continued substance abuse.
There are some obvious ways to prevent certain triggers, such as avoiding certain people and places that will stimulate memories and cravings. Yet, there are unconscious triggers, such as stress or having a particular conversation, which researchers recently investigated. The Penn Medicine’s Center for Studies of Addiction explored the ability of Baclofen to block the brain’s response to unconscious triggers long before conscious craving occurs.
Typically drug withdrawal for cocaine can include strong cravings, mood changes, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and an increased appetite. One’s mood might move through feeling depressed, anxious, and irritable. In a way, the challenging moods experienced during cocaine detox are a compensation for the euphoria experienced while addicted to the drug. However, the body is attempting to find homeostasis. Along these lines, the body is trying to recover its sources of energy. As a result, it might feel very tired during drug withdrawal treatment. Furthermore, the drug detox process might interrupt a regular sleep schedule. Cocaine detox often causes sleep problems, such as vivid and unpleasant dreams, insomnia, or hypersomnia, the experience of sleeping too much. Lastly, those going through cocaine withdrawal often experience a kind of physical slowing down, little energy, or they might experience feeling physically agitated.
The intense cravings and the many symptoms of cocaine withdrawal led researchers to find a way to make the detox process easier for cocaine addicts. The study explored whether the FDA approved Baclofen could inhibit some of the unconscious triggers that can lead to cocaine relapse. The results revealed that Baclofen could significantly lower the reward and motivational circuits to subliminal cocaine cues. Furthermore, the study showed that the effects of Baclofen on cue-induced brain activation were specific to drug cues and not other cues such for food or sex. In other words, cravings for cocaine can be inhibited through the use of Baclofen which specifically addresses those unconscious triggers in the brain.
The lead researcher of the study commented that the use of Baclofen could be therapeutically beneficial and perhaps support in sober living. The drug provides a mechanism to prevent certain types of cravings thus preventing relapse.
Obviously, when going through a sober living program, it’s important that an individual have the support they need. Detox and early sobriety can be a challenging experience. Certainly, this is the purpose of addiction treatment centers and halfway houses – they can provide a healing and safe environment. With enough support and a safe community, sober living can happen. Cocaine detox is the first step towards sobriety and recovery, which is entirely possible no matter the strength of the addiction.
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