The URI (University of Rhode Island) has received a $1.65million federal grant towards the study of a new drug being developed to control alcohol cravings.
The National Institute on Alcohol abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse has funded a laboratory for the clinical trials on the drug to be conducted.
If successful, the drug could become available worldwide and assist those addicted or who abuse alcohol and drugs.
Drug Aims To Reduce Alcohol Cravings
The drug that is being researched focuses on ghrelin. Ghrelin is a peptide within the stomach walls that stimulates appetite and food intake; it is also referred to as the “hunger hormone”.
In those that have an addiction to alcohol or suffer from abuse alcohol, they experiencing overwhelming cravings that stem from ghrelin being produced in the stomach walls by specialized cells; this then sends a message to the brain that they need alcohol.
Ghrelin levels are associated with higher alcohol cravings and consumption and it is believed that more is produced in those that suffer from alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse. The drug that is currently undergoing clinical trials on a larger placebo scale, has so far shown promising results, by reducing alcohol cravings through blocking the ghrelin receptors in the brain.
“The Drug Was safe And Well-Tolerated”
In a report published last month by Molecular Psychiatry, it said:
“Initial findings have shown positive results in lab rats and in 12 patients who volunteered for a study at NIH”.
The report further states:
“Addictions share similar pathways in the brain — food addiction, alcohol addiction, drug addiction. If this drug can block the ghrelin receptor, even if you have high ghrelin level, your ghrelin receptors become numb, and do not respond to the hunger signal,” said Akhlaghi, co-principal investigator on the study. “In 12 patients, there was a statistically significant reduction in alcohol craving and food craving. The main outcome was that the drug was safe and well-tolerated, did not affect alcohol pharmacokinetics and that there was a significant dampening of the effect of ghrelin.”
Could Drug Help Beat Addiction?
If the drug is approved, then it could potentially be used for a large number of substance based addictions as well as alcohol, including binge eating disorders, cocaine addiction, heroin addiction, smoking addiction, opiate addiction and cannabis addiction. All addiction based disorders produce cravings in the individual sufferer; even when they have stopped the alcohol or drug, their brain can still confuse hunger and cravings.
However, this is only part of a much larger picture when it comes to successfully treating addiction. In the long term, PCP cannot see this new drug being the answer to alcoholism or drug addiction.
Any alcohol or addiction treatment that leaves out the huge psychological aspect of the illness is unlikely to have a lasting impact.
Alcoholics drink essentially because they like the effect that alcohol produces, it changes the way that they feel and their emotions. Without learning how to successfully manage their emotions and stress levels with the assistance of rehab therapy and a recovery programme, it is likely the time will come when they will drink again.
Rehab Will Still Be Needed
PCP feel that it is important to point out that there is not only a physiological aspect to alcoholism and drug addiction. In order to treat addiction fully and successfully, professional psychotherapy and counselling are needed in order to change the individual’s beliefs, perspective and behaviours. This applies to whether they are addicted to alcohol, drugs or a particular activity.
We agree that this drug could assist an individual suffering from alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction to experience less hunger triggered cravings, but what about emotional or association triggered cravings?
For a full and lasting recovery from alcoholism, the core issues of the individuals drinking-related thinking will need to be unearthed and healed by professionals experienced in the psychology of addiction treatment. Otherwise, you will be left with what is known to as a “dry drunk”
What Is A Dry Drunk?
A dry drunk is someone who has managed to stop alcohol but still has the same belief systems and self-destructive personality traits as an active alcoholic.
We have known individuals who have stopped alcohol but who have not addressed the psychological side of their addiction to take their own life. This is because they have not learned to live happily without alcohol, nor have they addressed and healed the past. They are therefore vulnerable to misery and depression.
It is vital that anyone who is suffering from alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction undergoes a full rehabilitation programme. By doing this, they are not only safeguarding their sobriety, but they are also learning to live life on sober terms, happy and free.
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