Testing anti-drinking drug with help of a fake bar

I came across an article which many news agencies have picked up on at the start of the year about drugs which help people beat alcohol problems or alcoholism. I certainly think many can be helped by these type of methods, and think that although some may need counselling afterwards to learn to live life without crutch, they will do better if they can get some alcohol free time .  Here is a link http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/politics/wire/testing-anti-drinking-drug-with-help-of-a-fake-bar/article_e326f2e8-0a96-514b-accb-d401712ecb6e.html

bar open

Anyway here is a short section from the post which mentions some of the medication that is available.

Three drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat alcohol abuse. One, naltrexone, blocks alcohol’s feel-good sensation by targeting receptors in the brain’s reward system — if people harbor a particular gene. The anti-craving pill acamprosate appears to calm stress-related brain chemicals in certain people. The older Antabuse works differently, triggering nausea and other aversive symptoms if people drink while taking it.

Recent research suggests a handful of drugs used for other disorders also show promise:

—Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute found the epilepsy drug gabapentin reduced relapses in drinkers who’d recently quit, and improved cravings, mood and sleep by targeting an emotion-related brain chemical.

—A study by NIAAA and five medical centers found the anti-smoking drug Chantix may help alcohol addiction, too, by reducing heavy drinkers’ cravings.

—And University of Pennsylvania researchers found the epilepsy drug topiramate helped heavy drinkers cut back, if they have a particular gene variation mostly found in people of European descent.

Back in NIH’s bar lab, one of about a dozen versions around the country, the focus is on ghrelin, the hormone produced in the stomach that controls appetite via receptors in the brain. It turns out there’s overlap between receptors that fuel overeating and alcohol craving in the brain’s reward system, explained NIAAA’s Leggio.

In a study published this fall, his team gave 45 heavy-drinking volunteers different doses of ghrelin, and their urge to drink rose along with the extra hormone.

Now Leggio is testing whether blocking ghrelin’s action also blocks those cravings, using an experimental Pfizer drug originally developed for diabetes but never sold. The main goal of this first-step study is to ensure mixing alcohol with the drug is safe. But researchers also measure cravings as volunteers, hooked to a blood pressure monitor in the tiny bar-lab, smell a favorite drink. Initial safety results are expected this spring.

“Our hope is that down the line, we might be able to do a simple blood test that tells if you will be a naltrexone person, an acamprosate person, a ghrelin person,” Koob said.


I think that some people in the 12 step world have held progress back in this area, and have tried to push the 12 step spiritual/religious/moralising solution on everyone regardless of circumstances. This has resulted in many not getting help that was appropriate for them. Hopefully, these drugs will be available to those that want ad need them to give up alcohol, and that relevant scientific developments will discover more about alcoholism.


Commenting area

  1. Will be interesting to see the first results of this when they are released in Spring.

    Naltrexone has already been shown to work much more effectively in those who drink alcohol one hour after taking it, and yet this article states that the ‘The main goal of this first-step study is to ensure mixing alcohol with the drug is safe.’

    If they test naltrexone in those who didn’t drink with it, the results will not be showing as very good. For those taking naltrexone alongside abstinence it has already been shown to actually increase cravings for many people.

    If they ask the volunteers to take the naltrexone and drink after one hour, then we should expect the results to show the same trends as with the other 120+ clinical trials that have already been done with naltrexone.

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