Study Reveals New Strategy for Reducing Alcohol Craving

Research Summary

Researchers say that a drug that blocks a brain protein called NK1R (neurokinin-1 receptor) involved in stress response appears to reduce alcohol craving, ABC News reported Feb. 14.
Building on studies showing that mice lacking NK1R seemed to lose interest in alcohol, researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism gave NK1R-blocking drugs to a group of 25 alcoholics and compared their craving responses to those of 25 other alcoholics given a placebo. Those receiving the blocking drug reported about half the level of craving for alcohol as the control group.
Markus Heilig, NIAAA’s clinical director, said the study points to a new approach to addiction treatment by focusing on reducing craving rather than preventing the pleasurable effects of alcohol consumption. “We’re really trying to open up a new category of treatments that would help most people,” he said.
“This is a potentially important finding which indicates a novel mechanism for reducing craving in individuals who drink to reduce high anxiety,” said pharmacology expert Boris Tabakoff of the University of Colorado at Denver.
“It may be that this medication would help alcoholics who drink when stressed,” added Charles O’Brien of the Treatment Research Center for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, although he stressed: “It is wrong to think of all alcoholics as alike.”
The study was published online in the journal Science.

Source: Join Together Feb. 2008

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