Could A New Pill Stop Addiction?

Could A New Pill Stop Addiction?

By Beth Leipholtz 03/20/18

A new pill called SOC-1 has reportedly cut cocaine urges by 90% and reduced methamphetamine use by 85% in mice.

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female scientist with protective eyeglasses and mask holding a red transparent pill with fingers in gloves

A new pill appears promising, and could pave the way for curing drug and alcohol use disorders. 

The pill, invented by University of Sydney scientists, is called SOC-1. According to the Daily Mail, researchers have spent more than 10 years developing the medication in response to growing methamphetamine use in Australia, as well as in response to other forms of substance abuse. 

The pill, according to Nine News, works by mimicking the behavior of the hormone oxytocin—a hormone known to promote bonding and social interaction. Nine News also states that the pill was created to “overcome the challenges of using tablet or spray forms of oxytocin.”

The hope is that trials of the medication will begin in the next few years through a spin-off company called Kinoxis Therapeutics, Nine News states. 

“Oxytocin itself is really far from an ideal therapeutic compound,” Michael Bowen of the University of Sydney's Brain and Mind Centre told Nine News. “It can't be taken in pill form because it just gets broken down by enzymes in the gut. Even when it's administered through other routes like in a nasal spray, it can't get into the brain in very high concentrations at all.”

So far, the pill has been tested on mice. According to Nine News, this testing has been promising. 

"SOC-1 has more than halved consumption of alcohol down to levels that are not intoxicating,” Bowen told Nine News. “It has led to a nearly 90% reduction in the motivation to consume cocaine and a greater than 85% reduction in methamphetamine consumption.”

Bowen also tells Nine News that in other experiments, SOC-1 appeared to completely block methamphetamine relapse.

Pre-clinical studies also demonstrated that the pill promotes positive social interactions. 

"In fact, we actually think that one of the ways SOC-1 might be working is by shifting focus away from seeking out and consuming addictive substances and instead onto seeking out the positive social interactions that we know are really critical for long-term recovery," Bowen told Nine News

Though there are other medications, such as methadone and Suboxone, that can help treat heroin use, there is no such medication for methamphetamine withdrawal or dependence. 

While medication can be helpful for some who are struggling with substance use disorders, it is believed by some to be most effective when paired with rehabilitation programs.

"Medications on their own are not usually sufficient," Caroline Long, Service Development Manager at Odyssey House Victoria, told Nine News. "We think we get the best outcome for clients when there's a tailored approach for the individual."

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at www.lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.

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