By: Bethany Winkel
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New Drug Could Help Treat Alcoholism
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, are hoping to develop a new drug that can be used to treat alcoholism. The drug, instead of working to simply reduce dopamine levels in the brain, targets a specific receptor in the brain, leading to reduced alcohol consumption.
Study co-author, Dr. James Cook, explained the problems with the drugs in use already. “[Current drugs] dampen out the dopamine system a little bit, so you don’t get so happy when you have an alcoholic beverage. But these medications, derived from a class of compounds called opioid antagonists, cause depression in some patients. And they’re addictive themselves, which can lead to drug abuse. Valium is an example of a common drug used to treat alcoholism that is also addictive.”
Cook went on to explain the benefits of the medication they have been working on. “What excites me is the [new] compounds are orally active, and they don’t cause depression like some drugs do. If everything works out, a drug could be ready for the market in 5 – 6 years.”
Treating the Underlying Problem
While studies of medications like this are beneficial to the treatment of alcoholism, they should not be viewed as the cure. People begin drinking for a reason. Either to hide feelings, numb pain, or fit in, alcoholism begins as a way of self-medicating. Simply taking a pill that reduces cravings or makes it less fun to drink will not be a cure for alcoholism. As with any medication to help with addiction, this drug will need to be combined with rehab and therapy, so that the person can learn how to live without alcohol, and can heal the underlying problems of their condition.
The effectiveness of a solid treatment program should never be overlooked. There is no magic cure for addiction. Recovery can be achieved only through hard work, dedication, and the learned skills of dealing with stress and anxiety.
Read more about the new study here.