Pill helps quell addicts' drug cravings

February 27, 2012 4:56:51 PM PST
It's a real breakthrough in treating addiction that may change the lives of people who thought they had no chance. One man is beating his cocaine habit, and it's with a treatment that doctors believe will work for other drug addictions, too.

Paul Moore had been addicted to cocaine for 20 years. Eight months ago, he changed his life.

"This probably is my greatest accomplishment," Moore said.

He did it in the UT MOTIVATE program with an inexpensive antidepressant and 12 weeks of counseling.

How does it work? The antidepressant, called Citalopram, helped reduce the craving.

"You go home and take all your little drug paraphernalia, and find it from where ever you've gotten it hidden, and you throw it all away," Moore said.

Once the craving wasn't as strong, Moore was receptive to the counseling. He learned about avoiding triggers and temptations.

"You let them know I'm trying to make this change, and I'd appreciate it if you'd respect that," Moore said.

How effective is the MOTIVATE program?

"Roughly half the individuals who participated reduced or quit their use, about half, which is a pretty remarkable number of patients," said psychiatrist Dr. Joy Schmitz with UTHealth.

MOTIVATE has been so successful in its studies, it's now open to everyone who needs it.

"Many of these are individuals who have used half their lives -- 20 or 30 years of their lives -- and to see that in maybe 12 weeks they can change their behavior, they can change the way they think, they can get employment," Dr. Schmitz said.

There is a risk of relapse, but Moore believes he can do it this time.

"If somebody can hear me, and can see that I stopped, then they realize that there's hope for them too if they really want to," he said.

The MOTIVATE program is working for other addictions besides cocaine.

For more information, call 713-486-2635 or visit UT's 'MOTIVATE' program website.