Topiramate, a weight loss drug is found to be effective in reducing cocaine addiction but not alcohol.

Researchers in the department of Psychiatry at Penn Medicine conducted a study on people addicted to both alcohol and cocaine. One hundred and seventy alcohol and cocaine dependent people took part in this 13 week clinical trial. Though previous studies have established that the drug Topiramate is effective in reducing alcohol cravings, this was the first clinical trial conducted on the subject. Generally treatments for alcohol and cocaine addiction are the same and experts usually recommend therapies targeting both addictions as they best strategy to deal with the problem.

For the study, researchers divided the participants into two groups. The first group was put on a placebo and the second was treated with Topiramate, a drug used to treat epilepsy and now used for weight loss.

Researchers observed that Topiramate was effective in reducing alcohol cravings but not drinking. It was also found to be less effective in reducing cocaine cravings. However, the participants given the drug were more likely to stay in treatment longer. They also refrained from cocaine use during the last three weeks of the trial with 20 percent of users on Topiramate abstaining, compared to just 7 percent on the placebo. Sixty-five percent of participants on topiramate stayed in the trial while 59 percent of subjects on the placebo stayed till the end on the trial.

"Cocaine dependence continues to be a significant public health concern in the United States and Europe. Drug counseling remains the treatment of choice, but many patients do not respond completely to it, so developing effective medications for treatment is a research priority," said first author Kyle M. Kampman, MD, professor of Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in a press statement. "Based on the study's results, this drug, plus cognitive behavioral therapy, may be a good option for people addicted to both alcohol and cocaine to help reduce their cocaine use."

Researchers also noted that participants who showed sever cocaine withdrawal symptoms like agitation, restless behavior, and depressed mood, benefitted the most from the drug.

The findings of the study were published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence