Apomorphine treatment for Alzheimer’s disease?

27 Oct

Yagé is a  psychedelic drug made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, and was much favored by Beat writer William Burroughs. So much so that he became deeply addicted it and other drugs.

According to this article in The Guardian, Burroughs broke his drug addiction using the dopamine agonist apomorphine:

‘Burroughs’s quest for “the final fix” was occasionally nerve-racking. After one infusion of yagé, he told his friend, the poet Allen Ginsberg: “I was completely delirious for four hours. The old bastard who prepared this potion specialises in poisoning gringos.”

The trip accelerated Burroughs’s acute drug dependence. In 1956, conscious that he might otherwise die, he went to London to be treated with apomorphine, a non-narcotic derivative of morphine, by Dr John Dent, a medical maverick and coincidentally the secretary of the British Society for the Study of Addiction.

Dent, who had begun his career in 1918 treating drunks around King’s Cross in London, had pioneered the use of apomorphine as a cure for alcoholism, reporting his findings in the British Journal of Inebriety in 1931. Acting on an inspired hunch, Dent applied his treatment to the drug-addicted Burroughs, who reported extraordinary results. “Apomorphine,” he wrote later, “acts on the back brain to normalise the bloodstream in such a way that the enzyme system of addiction is destroyed.”’

Andrew Lees suggests that apomorphine might be useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Here is Burroughs on his drug use and the apomorphine treatment:

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