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Epilepsy Medication Could Help Treat Cocaine Dependence: Study

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The drug topiramate, used to treat epilepsy and migraine headaches, may be an effective treatment for cocaine dependence, a new study suggests.

There are currently no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat cocaine addiction, Science Daily reports. The study was conducted by Dr. Bankole A. Johnson of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who previously found topiramate was a safe and effective treatment for alcohol dependence.

The new study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, included 142 adults who were seeking treatment for cocaine dependence. They were randomly assigned to receive either topiramate or a placebo. The researchers found topiramate was more effective at increasing the likelihood that participants would have cocaine-free weeks. The drug was also significantly associated with a decrease in cocaine craving, and an improvement in participants’ overall functioning.

Side effects of the drug were mild, and included abnormal tingling skin sensations, taste distortions, anorexia, and difficulty concentrating.

“Our findings reveal that topiramate is a safe and robustly efficacious medicine for the treatment of cocaine dependence, and has the potential to make a major contribution to the global health crisis of addiction,” Dr. Johnson said in a news release. “However, topiramate treatment also is associated with glaucoma, and higher doses of the drug can increase the risk of side effects; therefore, caution must be exercised when prescribing the drug, especially when given in high doses.”

A study published in July 2013 found topiramate may help reduce cocaine use in people addicted to cocaine and alcohol.

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