Study pits BP meds against cocaine addiction

February 5, 2013 12:11:37 PM PST
Few things are as heartbreaking as having a loved one addicted to cocaine, but now an extraordinary new study is underway in Houston.

They're changing lives by breaking cocaine addictions with an inexpensive pill that might be in your medicine cabinet.

Could an inexpensive blood pressure medicine help a cocaine addict break a lifelong addiction? Brandll Mann Sr. hoped so, because cocaine cost him his family, his job and his home.

"I messed up a bunch of things when I was out there," Mann said.

Trying a blood pressure medicine against one of the hardest addictions to fight was Dr. Thomas Kosten's idea.

"It actually worked," Kosten said.

Dr. Kosten had noticed that a certain type of blood pressure medicine controlled many of the same things that cocaine use affected.

"It not only blocked the heart rate and the blood pressure effects," he said. "But it also blocked the excitement, the agitation, the paranoia."

Mann was one of the first study patients to test their theory.

Houston VA researchers say the blood pressure drug helps stop the cravings, but it doesn't stop the effects of cocaine.

"Along with taking the medication, I did a bunch of other things. I went to AA meetings; I stopped hanging around the dealers; I stopped hanging around the 'hood," Mann said. "It was a combination of things."

The VA researchers say about half of the veterans addicted to cocaine who took the blood pressure medicine stayed off cocaine for at least two weeks.

"For someone who's using every day, multiple times a day, to be able to not use cocaine for two weeks, it's a tremendous success," said Dr. Daryl Shorter, lead investigator.

For Mann, one thing helped him the most.

"I didn't have the cravings taking the medicine," he said. "I didn't have the cravings, and not having the cravings made me not want to put it in my body."

His study ended in January, but Mann makes the decision every day not to use. He's been sober four months.

"The best four months of my life," he said.

Baylor and DeBakey VA researchers are taking more patients in the cocaine and blood pressure drug study. For more information you can call 281-685-9320 or 877-807-3072. You do not have to be a veteran to participate.

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