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Cocaine addiction, a complex illness that has physical, mental, familial, and social components, remains a significant public health issue. Below, we discuss a variety of methods, both traditional and unconventional, for treating cocaine addiction.

Behavioral Treatments

Various forms of behavioral treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and methods that offer rewards for abstinence, have shown promise in helping individuals with cocaine addiction. People can receive these treatments as outpatients or as part of residential treatment programs. Interventions that focus on behavior are sometimes combined with the use of medications.


According to the results of a study published in the June 5th, 2018 issue of the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, ibogaine, a psychedelic substance found in iboga, a Western African shrub, may be an effective tool in treating cocaine addiction. Cocaine craving questionnaires administered to the study’s participants suggested this substance, which has historically been used in healing ceremonies in the Bwiti religion in West Africa, may be useful in alleviating drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. For individuals who choose to be treated at ibogaine clinics, Mexico is one option where this type of treatment is offered legally.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT can be employed individually or in group settings, and it’s one of the most frequently used types of therapy in addiction treatment programs. With CBT, people are taught to identify the specific feelings and thoughts that may have led to their drug use in the past, and they’re taught how to develop and use healthy coping strategies to deal with those triggers. These strategies often include learning constructive ways to handle cravings, negative thoughts, and perilous situations that might cause them to go back to using drugs again. 

Contingency Management (CM)

Another promising form of behavioral therapy for people with cocaine addiction is contingency management (CM). Sometimes called “motivational incentives,” this approach can also be used in various types of individual and group settings. With CM, individuals receive rewards when they abstain from using drugs. This helps them develop the skills necessary to deal with the things and situations that trigger their drug use, particularly in the early stages of recovery. 

Matrix Model

This abstinence-based treatment incorporates components of several different therapeutic approaches, including CBT, CM, and traditional 12-step programs. This form of treatment involves individual counseling, family education, and other forms of support, and it has received a great deal of attention from people in the addiction treatment community because it’s viewed as an evidence-based form of treatment.

Pharmacological Approaches

Behavioral therapy does prove effective for some people with cocaine addiction, but for others, typical psychosocial treatment isn’t enough. For that reason, researchers are focusing on the development of effective pharmacological approaches to treating addiction, with two primary goals: initially, to help addicts abstain from using drugs, and later, to help them avoid relapsing. Medications and alternative pharmacological approaches designed to treat cocaine addiction are being developed and studied with both of these goals in mind. Researchers are exploring a number of biological targets related to the nervous system. Although research has focused primarily on the neurotransmitter dopamine, scientists have also discovered cocaine causes changes associated with other neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, serotonin, glutamate, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). 

Prescription Medications

In light of recent advances in the study of cocaine addiction, researchers have been able to identify a number of medications that may prove effective in treating it. These include:

  • Propranolol – This beta blocker shows promise for treating patients with severe symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. 
  • Baclofen – This muscle relaxant may reduce the amount of dopamine released in the brain when cocaine is used.
  • Tiagabine – This anti-seizure medication may be effective at treating cocaine dependence. 
  • Topiramate – Another anti-seizure medication, topiramate shows promise for preventing relapses because of its effects on both GABA and glutamate neurotransmission. 
  • Disulfiram – Often used to treat alcohol dependence, this medication may also be effective at preventing relapses in cocaine addicts. 

It appears increasingly likely that effective pharmacological treatments for cocaine addiction will be available in the not-too-distant future.

Additional Information about Ibogaine

In small doses, ibogaine acts as a mild stimulant, while large doses can induce a severe psychedelic state. Some people with addictions to substances have found psychedelic therapy using ibogaine can reduce both cravings and withdrawal symptoms. However, the effects may not be long-lasting, and instances of serious side effects, including deaths, have been linked to the treatment. 

Few long-term studies have been conducted on ibogaine, and further research is needed to learn conclusively how it affects the body. Researchers note that while some studies support claims that ibogaine can be useful in treating addiction, a greater number of controlled studies are necessary to determine the efficacy and safety of this treatment.

Cocaine addiction is a serious, complex disease that requires treatment. It has a significant impact on every aspect of physical and mental health, and it can even cause early death. If you or someone you loved is addicted to cocaine, reach out to a medical professional or another person you trust to help you find support and explore options for treatment.