Pharmaceutical Advances on Alcohol Addiction

Researchers say that two drug advances may help millions of Americans addicted to alcohol control their cravings, The drug Naltrexone, which was available in capsule form for years, is now offered as a once-a-month injection. “People came in saying that they really wanted to try this because they had a hard time remembering to take the drug on their own,” said lead researcher Dr. Henry Kranzler, a psychiatry professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Kranzler’s study, involving 315 patients addicted to alcohol, found that the monthly version of the drug increased the total number of days that the participants abstained from consuming alcohol.

The drug Acamprosate, which is in use in Europe and awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, also has showed success in studies led by Elizabeth Houtsmuller, a professor of behavioral biology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Houtsmuller’s research examined the physiologic and behavioral changes in 10 heavy drinkers who were given daily Acamprosate. The participants were given opportunities to drink during various points in the study period.

The study found that those who took Acamprosate became more sedate than usual. However, it was not clear whether this sedation would discourage repeat alcohol consumption. “It doesn’t work by altering alcohol absorption or elimination,” said Houtsmuller. “And it doesn’t appear to work by changing alcohol’s subjective effects – the alcohol ‘experience’ that people have.”

Kranzler said the medical advances, combined with psychotherapy and assistance from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, are helping many alcoholics turn their lives around. “We see people getting better all the time,” he said.

Source: Health Day News reported July 14.2004. published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research July 2004

Back to top of page

Powered by WordPress