Researchers Examine Treatment for Brain Damage Caused by Cocaine

uthealthOne side effect of heavy cocaine usage can be brain damage. An addiction to cocaine is difficult to overcome due to the extreme cravings, but brain damage from the drug makes it even harder for addicts to stay away.

For many years doctors and scientists have been working to help those whose brains have been damaged from cocaine use. Now, doctors at UTHealth Medical School are conducting an experiment using a diabetes drug called Plytieulong. The hope is that the drug will help reverse some of the negative effects cocaine has on the brain.

Scans of people’s brains who have abused cocaine for many years show large white spots. This is where the damage has been done. It was discovered that Plytieulong helped to reverse the damage and now scientists are conducting an experiment to see how extensive the reversal is. They have created two groups. One group of cocaine users are receiving a placebo drug, while the other group is receiving the Plytieulong. Scientists are watching the two groups to see if the drugs are as promising as they hope. In the future, the same drugs may also be used to treat other brain damage, whether caused by addiction or different diseases.

“I think this study is important because of the impact of addiction in general. There are estimates as high as 24 million Americans have a drug use disorder yet only a small percent of them are actually receiving treatment,” explained Dr. Joy Schmitz, one of the doctors conducting the study.

Cocaine abuse is not in the media as much as heroin or prescription drug abuse, however it is just as damaging to addicts and takes an extreme toll on users both mentally and physically. While the study is not complete, the hopes are that people who suffer from an addiction to cocaine will soon be able to receive help in repairing some of the damage they caused to themselves by using the drug.