Science and Health

Could Ritalin Treat Cocaine Addiction?

Researchers say the ADHD drug helps normalize brain function in addicts.

Could Ritalin Treat Cocaine Addiction?

Fighting drugs with drugs? A new study shows using Ritalin might be the answer to breaking cocaine addiction.

Psychiatric researchers found Ritalin, a stimulant prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, helps regulate the nerve pathways that go out of control in the brains of cocaine addicts. (Via CBS)

The researchers took adults who were addicted to cocaine, gave them either a Ritalin pill or a placebo and then took MRIs of their brain activity. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Sponge / National Archives)

They found Ritalin normalized brain activity, meaning the drug appeared to boost the brain’s ability to resist impulses — say, for instance, the drug-seeking behavior of an addict. (Via National Geographic)

Researchers say this study was strictly a brain imaging one, so it didn’t affirm that this could be an actual treatment for cocaine addicts. (Via JAMA Psychiatry)

But it is an interesting first step, though. The study’s findings aren’t too out there, either, simply because Ritalin and cocaine have a lot in common.

Ritalin is a powerful stimulant that has a similar chemical structure to cocaine. They both increase dopamine levels in the brain, but Ritalin’s “uptake” in the brain is slower than cocaine’s. (Via The University of Utah)

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 821,000 Americans are addicted to cocaine.