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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Experimental Drug Could Help Alcoholics

There are a couple of medications available that have shown promise with regard to reducing alcohol cravings and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, Vivitrol (naltrexone) and Acamprosate. While these medications are commonly prescribed in addiction treatment settings, the majority of alcoholics never see the inside of such facilities. Since those types of drugs are considered to be under-utilized, a significant number of people with alcohol use disorder who could benefit from such medications rarely are offered the drugs by their primary care physician.

Acamprosate, with some individuals, has been found to mitigate the symptoms that typically accompany post-acute alcohol withdrawal, such as insomnia, anxiety and restlessness. All three of those symptoms have lead people to consider, or worse actually, relapse. Which is why public health officials are encouraging doctors to utilize alcohol use disorder medications, as it may give certain patients a better chance at prolonged recovery, NPR reports.

“They’re very safe medications, and they’ve shown efficacy,” said George Koob, Director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

Alcoholism plagues millions of people around the globe every year. It practically goes without saying that “booze” is pervasive, people are exposed to practically everywhere. Being one of the reasons that relapse rates are so high, external triggers are everywhere. It is unfortunate that there isn’t a plethora of medication options available for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. But, fortunately researchers continue to work on new drugs that could help people abstain from drinking.

New research suggests that an experimental drug, ABT-436, could be a promising aid for people with alcohol use disorder who experience high levels of stress, according to Live Science. On average, participants in the study who were given ABT-436 were able to abstain for 51 days, compared to 42 days in the placebo group. The findings were published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

“Our findings suggest that potential future studies with drugs targeting vasopressin blockade should focus on populations of people with [alcohol use disorder] who also report high levels of stress,” study co-author Megan Ryan, a clinical project manager at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

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