Could There Really Be A Cure For Cokeheads?


Cocaine, the party drug of the 1980s, never went away, even more than two decades later. This wake-me-up stimulant is still used by millions of people and it’s more than just a recreational drug. Users really get hooked on it, even if they think they can just party with the white powder a couple of times. Cocaine is highly addictive. It’s right up there with heroin and cocaine’s more deviant cousin, crack cocaine.

So far, no one has been able to crack the problem of a medical treatment for cocaine addiction. Heroin addicts have Buprenorphine and Naltrexone. Alcoholics have Antabuse and Campral. What’s a poor cokehead to do? Just slog it out in rehab with no medication? Never fear, researchers are close to a vaccine, and maybe even an antidote, for cocaine addiction.

Vaccine Prevents Mice from Getting High

Vaccines have long been used to prevent us from getting infections. The idea is to trigger the immune system to act against a particular virus or bacterium. The same idea is being applied to cocaine. A recent study from the Scripps Research Institute demonstrated that a vaccine used in mice could trigger the animals’ immune systems to attack cocaine. The result? When the mouse is administered a dose of cocaine, its immune system destroys the compound before it can get to the brain and get the animal high. If an addict gets no high from cocaine, he will have no reason to take it. Of course, the addict would have to agree to get vaccinated, but if he did the medication could prevent him from relapsing.

This was not the first research team or the first project to work on a vaccine against cocaine, but earlier efforts weren’t very effective. The Scripps team used a protein from bacteria, called flagellin, to help trigger the immune system and put it on the attack against cocaine. Flagellin has been used in other medical vaccines, and so far shows the most promise for a vaccine that targets a drug.

What About an Antidote?

Another research group, this one from the University of Copenhagen, thinks it has found the key to creating a cocaine antidote. The key lies in dopamine transporters in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is related to feelings of pleasure. It is a reward chemical that motivates us to repeat behaviors, like taking cocaine. Dopamine transporters are like vacuums for the neurotransmitter. When stimulated, they clean up excess dopamine. Cocaine inhibits the transporters, which results in a flood of the feel-good chemical.

The Danish researchers recently reported on some interesting discoveries about the structure of the dopamine transporter and how inhibitors act on it. They found other compounds that, like cocaine, inhibit the transporter. However, these other inhibitors attached to the transporter in a closed form. The result was that they had the opposite effect of cocaine and produced no flood of dopamine. With these discoveries, the researchers are certain they can come up with a new inhibitor drug that could counteract cocaine and help addicts avoid relapsing. The overall effect would be similar to a cocaine vaccine in that the drug user would no longer get a high from cocaine if they took the antidote.

The latest cocaine research is exciting, but it is important to understand there is no cure for any addiction. If you’re hooked on snorting cocaine, you need still have to go through all the therapy and group support that will help you work out your inner demons. But if you could supplement that with a vaccine or an antidote, you could have a really useful took for staying clean.

2018-08-23T06:38:35+00:00April 29, 2015|Drug Addiction, Substance Abuse, The Control Center|

Why do people love reality television like Intervention? Train Wreck or Treatment?

The A&E show Intervention ran for 13 successful seasons for a very good reason: this is compelling stuff. Watching tearful families confront their addicted loved ones, seeing the realities of addiction and how it affects individuals and those close to them, this is the content that makes for the best reality television. Especially for any viewers with the good fortune to never have been touched by the demon of addiction, watching lives collapse and loved ones scrambling to pull them back together again is an emotional roller coaster, ending with a warm fuzzy feeling that this person will get better.

Watching real, live interventions is exciting. We wonder how the addict will react. Is she going to cry and submit? Or will she throw a chair through the window and refuse to get help? What we don’t see is what happens after a successful intervention. All we get is the excitement of an intervention and this can be misleading. What is an intervention really, and how does it help the addict? What goes into a good intervention and how can it go wrong? Should you stage one on your own or do you need the help of a professional? And what happens next?

Intervention is Motivation

The main goal of an intervention is to motivate an addict to recognize his problem and to accept help for it. An intervention can be held for someone addicted to drugs or alcohol or for someone with a behavioral addiction, to say shopping or gambling. Denial is a common trait in all types of addicts. An addict does not want to admit to having a problem for a variety of reasons: the stigma and shame of being an addict, the inevitable treatment, and the need to give up the vice. Hearing from loved ones about how the addiction is affecting everyone is a powerfully motivating tool for eliminating denial.

An Intervention is a Process

If you think you can sit your loved one down and have a simple heart-to-heart about her problem drinking and that you’ll hug and cry afterwards as she promises to get help, you’re kidding yourself. An intervention is a well-planned process that involves several people and it may not stick the first time. To stage an intervention with the best chance of success requires a plan, practice, outlined treatment options, and specific consequences for the addict if she refuses help.


Intervention is for the Professionals

To hold an intervention that is not likely to deteriorate into rage, violent outbursts, and a situation that is worse than what you started with, you need the help of a professional. Imagine you were about to be confronted by a group of people and told that you had a problem and needed to change. How would you react? Think of all the possibilities and you may never stage an intervention. Having a professional on hand is crucial for keeping the peace and for ensuring that your addicted loved one will cope in a healthful way with the realities of his situation. You also need to be sure that you have options for your loved one. You can’t just tell him he has a problem and leave it at that. A professional can help you find a treatment program.

Interventions are exciting and fun to watch on television. The drama of addiction is particularly engaging when it isn’t your life. The reality for an addict is not so much fun. If you have been watching a friend or family member struggle with addiction while in complete denial, an intervention could be the motivating tool you need. Most people confronted in this way do end up getting help. Take the step to intervene, but do it right and don’t just get caught up in the excitement of reality TV.

2018-08-23T06:43:46+00:00March 17, 2014|Behavioral Addiction, Drug Addiction, Mental Health|

Do Smart Pills Really Exist?

The Control Center’s very own Dr. Reef appeared on The Today Show to talk about new “smart drugs.”

Prompted by a Details Magazine article and Bradley Cooper’s character in the movie Limitless, the segment’s topic focuses on new pills, specifically Nuvigil and Provigil, that make you feel more awake and alert, and essentially increase what you are capable of intellectually.

Smart Pills

Today Show host, Matt Lauer sets up the topic by posing the question, “If you could take a pill, and it would make you smarter, would you take it?”

One man tells his story of taking Nuvigil, and then going off the drug. His experience is that the drug only helps him, and he likes who he is better when he is taking the “smart pill.”

Dr. Reef is consulted on these nootropics, or “smart drugs.” He warns that, while these brain-enhancing pills are not addictive, the danger of side effects when nootropics are not taken properly is very real.

In his words, “I’m not against the concept of building a smarter brain. What I am against is people that just haphazardly go in and just try to pretend they’re chemists and do things to their brains that could be hurtful in the end.”

Enhancing the brain’s functioning is not what troubles him, but the approach people are taking in popping a pill without understanding what effect it is truly having on the brain is cause for concern.

Like other pills, Nuvigil and other “smart drugs” are altering your brain’s chemistry. You function one way, and then add a combination of chemicals, and the system operates differently. Your routine functioning is altered. When you don’t know what changes are being made to your own brain, you may not be doing what’s best for you overall, or in the long run.

So back to the question, if your doctor thought one of these non-addictive “smart pills” was right for you, would you take it?

Watch the video to hear Dr. Reef share his opinion on this new class of drugs.

2018-08-23T06:46:06+00:00June 14, 2013|Drug Addiction, Media|

Author Kate Miller Opens Up About Adderall Addiction

Adderall Addiction

If you went to college, chances are you knew someone who was using Adderall to study; it may have been you. The drug is a stimulant, meaning it makes your brain and body feel like there is more energy present.

Like many who started the use of Adderall in college, author Kate Miller opens up about her own Adderall addiction. During her senior year, she recounts trouble concentrating so she and a friend found a guy in the dorms who sold Adderall. The drug changed her life. Kate could study and write papers for hours on end without taking any breaks.

After finishing college, she took a job with a law firm in Manhattan, New York. The hours were long and the work was intense, so she felt it was time to get her own prescription of Adderall. Kate found a doctor who agreed with her self-diagnosed disorder, and she got 60 pills of Adderall after each appointment.

Instead of just using her new prescription for work focusing purposes though, Kate says that she began taking Adderall every night, which sometimes required drinking heavily to come down from the drug’s stimulation.

When she left the law firm, and the health insurance benefits that can with it, Kate would refill her Adderall prescription instead of buying groceries. The abuse was in full swing. When she went nights without sleeping, because of Adderall use the day before, Kate would just pop an Adderall pill with her morning coffee and go about her day. She was performing well at work, and maintaining an active social life.

At the time, she recalls thinking that this lifestyle would make for great stories one day, but as she wrote in her New York Times article, “The problem was, it stopped being a persona, and became who I was as a person: uninspired, unproductive and miserable.” She goes on to say that Adderall went from. “The take–as–needed-to-manage-boatloads-of-work basis” to the  “need-to-get-through-the-day mood stabilizer.”

After a wild night out with an old friend, Kate recognized the problem. The friend asked what was going on with Kate, which jolted her to see herself as she really was, and to break down crying, and then to flush the rest of her Adderall.

The ensuing months were extremely difficult, as is true for any addict that gets clean. The chemical imbalance is obvious in mood, energy level, and behavior. Eventually everything recalibrates and you can feel back to “normal,” but some of the effects can be more long-term.

In the case of Adderall, and other stimulant drugs, depression can be very real. Your body and brain were falsely energized by the substance for a long time and now that the drug is no longer in your system, the inner workings have to re-learn how to stimulate themselves. What was up, must come down, so to speak.

Although Kate Miller does not mention rehab in her story of Adderall addiction, for many people, treatment is the only way to truly heal from an addiction. Learning how to live a life without the drug that has aided your daily functioning for an extended period of time is difficult, but can be done with the assistance of trained professionals. The treatment team in a good rehab facility will work with you each day, focusing on your individually unique set of needs.

An alternative to months at an inpatient rehab program is the intensive outpatient treatment program at The Control Center, which allows you to continue working, going to school, taking care of a family, or any other responsibilities you simply cannot leave.

Even after thinking she needed Adderall to function and to be successful in the working world of New York City, Kate Miller changed her life and stopped abusing her drug of choice. Do the same for yourself, or for someone you love.

Contact The Control Center today to enroll and begin your healing process!

photo credit: Taylor Dawn Fortune

2018-08-23T06:47:35+00:00April 29, 2013|Drug Addiction|

Prescription Drugs And The NFL

 Prescription drugs + pro football players = a problem!

Prescription drugs + pro football players = a problem!

The NFL (the National Football League) has not been identified in the same way as baseball and steroids, but new reports are surfacing that prescription drug abuse is a major problem among the league’s players.

If you think about it, these are grown men who are putting their body through physically grueling games and practices every week for 17 weeks (with one week off per team.) The amount of injuries, even seemingly small, require a certain level of pain management. Many players would not be able to continue performing at the high level that the NFL demands without a weekly pain reduction.

Also, just from playing in a game, without any actual injuries caused, takes a brutal toll on the body. Recovering from such a high-impact sport can take most of the week, and then there is another game, and that does not include any practices. So, to be game-ready within 6 days, most players are prescribed various medications, whether for pain or for overall physical recuperation.

The problem: the medications prescribed, and most notably prescription painkillers, are among the most addictive of any substance around. Over-the-counter pain medications do not even begin to alleviate the pain these men are experiencing, and the dosage a 250-pound linebacker would have to ingest to feel any pain relief could send his liver into immediate shock.

Another part of the problem is that prescription painkillers do not just kill physical pain. Any emotional or psychological pain is also dulled, or completely relieved. What has happened to many NFL players is that when a physical injury has healed and the pain is no longer present, the lack of the prescription painkiller causes more than just a physical craving. Psychologically the person still wants the effects of the medication. All pain feels much more intense when it has been absent for an extended period of time.

Several well-known NFL players have become addicted to prescriptions like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, Norco, codeine, or morphine. A study out of the school of medical at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, found that 52% of the NFL players who were surveyed, had used opiates (or opioids) during his career, and of those men, 71% self-reported “misuse” of the prescription painkillers.

A few players came out to say that pain, playing through pain, and doing what you have to do to overcome pain, is an understood part of the professional football player’s job description. Your career may be short, and there are younger guys always waiting to take your position.

A real danger among professional football players is the combination of prescription painkillers with anti-inflammatory medications like Toradol. The effects of each drug, even when taken at separate times, run the full spectrum on the body and brain. Toradol is injected directly into a muscle for best results, and longest pain management. Players even report taking Toradol in pill form every Sunday, just in case an injury happened during the game.

Is prescription drug abuse rampant in the NFL because it has to be, or will people continue to be negatively affected long-term, leading the league to do something about the drug problem? The team physician for the St. Louis Rams has discontinued use of Toradol for his players. Will other teams follow suit?

Several team physicians say that the pain is real, and if the team doctor can not help manage the pain, the players will seek relief elsewhere, and what will they find? Instead of worrying about what drugs the players will take, at least the substances prescribed in-house are controlled.

What can be done to offer players quick pain relief, but in a way that will not lead to an addiction? It seems a solution is still to be determined.

For players who need to continue playing and training, but who want to stop abusing drugs, and for anyone cannot afford to be away from life, the intensive outpatient program at The Control Center is the solution. There are other ways to address pain, and to heal from whatever lead to a prescription drug addiction.

photo credit: Jason Poulton

2018-08-23T06:49:05+00:00April 10, 2013|Drug Addiction, The Control Center|

India Bans Codeine Cough Syrup To Help Fight Sizzurp Addiction

 Sizzurp?? Ever heard of it?

Sizzurp?? Ever heard of it?

Lil Wayne was reportedly abusing “sizzurp” and it’s making its way through Hollywood fast.

What is “sizzurp” and how bad is it?

It’s bad enough that the entire nation of India has placed a ban on any cough syrup that contains codeine to prevent the spread of sizzurp abuse.

With the continued increase of international abuse of sizzurp, a drink concocted of cough syrup that has codeine in it and fizzy and/or fruity drinks, India has decided to nip it in the bud within its own borders. The drink’s use has risen to a point that the Indian government can no longer manage. The states of Bihar and Maharashtra are the main places of concern, so the country decided that a nationwide ban would counteract the growing abuse.

India, Canada, and the United States are currently experiencing the highest rates of abuse and addiction to codeine cough syrup, and sizzurp. Have you heard about this?

Sizzurp and codeine usage has been glamorized by international music personalities to the point where millions of people are at least trying the drink. Lil Wayne seems to have become the face of sizzurp, but other rappers are also mentioning it in their lyrics. Young people who listen to hip-hop and rap music, and who look up to these stars and want to emulate them, are thinking that it’s okay to drink sizzurp.

Experimenting with an opiate is dangerous though. Codeine is in the same drug family as heroin. This part of the reality is not included in the hype or the fun surrounding codeine and sizzurp use presented in the media.

Just like heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, Norco, and other opiates, codeine and cough syrup with codeine causes its user to feel euphoria and an absence of pain, but while that is happening the drug is also suppressing the central nervous system. Breathing is slowed down dramatically, heart rate is much lower than normal, and brain functioning is slowed and confused.

Withdrawal from an opiate is among the worst of any drug. It is said that once someone makes it through opiate withdrawal without using, he or she has a major deterrent to ever use again: not wanting to experience those symptoms again!

For people like Lil Wayne who have been hospitalized because of seizures linked to codeine abuse, why would consumption of sizzurp continue? And, why would rappers continue to express the coolness that comes with codeine use and abuse?

Do rappers like Lil Wayne, Eminem, Drake and Ludacris, who mention sizzurp use in their music, need to take more responsibility for the widespread impact their nonchalant messages of drug abuse are conveying, or are they grown men who are free to do as they please and make songs about it? With the way drug use is progressing in the United States and internationally, something needs to happen to change the way the next generations are viewing substance abuse and addiction.

India’s ban on codeine cough syrup to help fight sizzurp addiction is one of those steps, but does making a drug illegal ever really stop its usage levels? It seems people will always find a way to use their drug, or drugs, of choice.

India might be taking the first positive action to fight the rise of sizzurp, codeine, and overall opiate abuse problem that plagues our world. Who will be next?!

What’s important for people who have tried sizzurp and have developed an addiction to codeine is to seek treatment. Opiate addiction is treatable with the desire to get clean and to start a life of recovery. With individual therapy, peer process groups, educational components, and holistic approaches, you, or someone you love, can stop using codeine. Tools for handling cravings, and skills to cope with difficult situations that may trigger the desire to use, are learned and applied to everyday life while in rehab.

Find out how you can recover from a codeine addiction today.
photo credit: minusbaby

2018-08-23T06:52:52+00:00April 8, 2013|Drug Addiction|