SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The overwhelming amount of methamphetamine in the United States has made the drug easy to get and cheap to buy. It's considered the world's most dangerous drug. One professor at LSU Health in Shreveport has potentially developed a drug that could cause meth addicts to put the drug down for good.
Dr. Nick Goeders is a professor at LSU Health in Shreveport and the chairman of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Neuroscience. He would like to see the number of 23 million American's with addiction problems vanish. His plan is to get his compound that he has started developing on the market.
"Nothing has approached addiction the way we are," said Dr. Goeders.
The compound recently was approved by the FDA for phase 1 of clinical trials. The drug will have to go through at least four phases before it will be offered to the public.
Dr. Goeders, who grew up with parents struggling with alcohol addiction, studied cocaine use for 25 years. His research evolved to include meth because of his fascination with the users inability to stop the powerful drug. He wanted to find out what kept a meth user hooked.
"It produces so much of that pleasure hormone, dopamine. It's said to be better than sex, better than chocolate, better than any time of pleasure producing chemical," he explained.
Goeders started developing the compound to kick cravings. His innovative drug would work by blocking the craving response a person has to a certain drug. He started his research by using lab rats to test their interest in a certain drug.
"We planted a catheter into these rats and then they can decide whether or not they want to take cocaine or take meth. If they pressed on the lever they received injections of coke or meth. By learning what happens in the brain when these animals decide to take meth or cocaine that gives us clues as to what we could look at in humans."
From there Goeders lab performed a small clinical trial on real cocaine users and the results were far better than he expected.
"They used less cocaine and they reported less cravings. It may work for other drugs. It may work for gambling addictions. It may work for binge eating. Who knows what the possibilities may be."
Eric Watson is the resident agent in charge for the DEA division in Shreveport. He has seen an increase in meth filtering in and out of the metro area.
"I'd say probably 80 percent of the file cases that we open are targeting meth traffickers," said Watson.
Recently Louisiana State Police and the DEA seized a massive amount of meth along I-20 which has been a problem Watson and his team has worked diligently to control.
"We probably knock off between one or two percent is the latest statistics that's traveling on the state highways," explained Watson.
Watson said the scary part about the drug is the fact that it has no socioeconomic boundaries.
"It's the soccer mom who stays at home all day that's using. It's the high school coach that's putting pressure on himself to perform and suddenly he has some friend that gives him some that helps him to stay up and watch tape at night."
Those are the same people Dr. Goeders would want to target with his compound which could change the way users think and feel about drugs.
"If somebody uses cocaine or meth or smokes a cigarette with our compound they'll still get high. They'll still feel the effects. What we're doing is blocking those triggers in the environment that lead to craving that results in relapse."