Can Lasers Treat Cocaine Addiction?

A new study seems to suggest that laser therapy can curb compulsive cocaine use, but this only fixes part of the problem.

Brentwood 7/04/2013 09:45 PM GMT (TransWorldNews)

Anyone who has struggled with addiction wishes they could just wave a magic wand and have the problem disappear. It seems like science fiction, but scientists recently proved they could erase a rat's cocaine habit by shining a laser light on the animal’s brain. Researchers hope they can use these recent studies to develop new therapies for humans struggling with addiction.

While we aren’t just like lab rats, there are similarities. A compulsive cocaine addiction can dull activity in the prefrontal cortex of both humans and rats. This is the brain region responsible for impulse control and decision making. Scientists undertaking this new study used genetic engineering to transform neurons in the rats' prefrontal cortex into a switch. They implanted light-sensitive proteins called rhodopsins in the neurons, and this allowed them to turn neurons on and off with a laser light. This study also means the treatment can go both ways. Switching off those neurons will also turn non-addicted rats into coke addicts.

The research was detailed in the journal Nature, and, while it’s promising, don’t look for this method to be available at your doctor or local treatment center anytime soon. Blocking the cravings for cocaine is just one part of addressing a drug addiction. Most people who become addicted to a substance have underlying issues that contribute to their substance abuse. It is important to deal with these co-occurring disorders in a comprehensive, Dual Diagnosis treatment program to provide lasting recovery and prevent the transference of an addiction to another substance or behavior.

Cocaine Addiction Help at The Canyon

With an estimated 1.4 million Americans currently addicted to cocaine, new research is important to pursue. If you or someone you love needs treatment for cocaine addiction, call The Canyon at the toll-free number on our homepage. Someone is there to take your call 24 hours a day and answer any questions you have about treatment, financing or insurance.


News Alerts

Receive alerts for Foundations Recovery Network to your inbox. Sign up for News Alerts