Yet a recent review for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimated that less than a third of people who need treatment get it, and of those, less than 10 percent receive medications.
Three drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat alcohol abuse. One, naltrexone, blocks alcohol’s feel-good sensation by targeting receptors in the brain’s reward system — if people harbor a particular gene. The anti-craving pill acamprosate appears to calm stress-related brain chemicals in certain people. The older Antabuse works differently, triggering nausea and other aversive symptoms if people drink while taking it.
The FDA: We advocate for certain medications, you know, the ones that don’t make you “high.” Because feeling good, while you’re feeling bad, is just… not right. What medical evidence do we have to back that up? Why, addiction rates.
So, you’re denying the beneficial effects of certain drugs because 9% of the population may become addicted to them? What does that have to do with the medical evidence of a drug’s effectiveness? What about the other 91% of people for whom the drug works just fine?
Recent research suggests a handful of drugs used for other disorders also show promise:
—Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute found the epilepsy drug gabapentin reduced relapses in drinkers who’d recently quit, and improved cravings, mood and sleep by targeting an emotion-related brain chemical.
—A study by NIAAA and five medical centers found the anti-smoking drug Chantix may help alcohol addiction, too, by reducing heavy drinkers’ cravings.
I’m sorry, but from what I’ve read about Chantix, that doesn’t sound like a good idea.
—And University of Pennsylvania researchers found the epilepsy drug topiramate helped heavy drinkers cut back, if they have a particular gene variation mostly found in people of European descent…
Now Leggio is testing whether blocking ghrelin’s action also blocks those cravings, using an experimental Pfizer drug originally developed for diabetes but never sold. The main goal of this first-step study is to ensure mixing alcohol with the drug is safe. But researchers also measure cravings as volunteers, hooked to a blood pressure monitor in the tiny bar-lab, smell a favorite drink. Initial safety results are expected this spring.
I wonder… Can you block cravings for chocolate? Peanuts? Butterfingers? Steak?
“Our hope is that down the line, we might be able to do a simple blood test that tells if you will be a naltrexone person, an acamprosate person, a ghrelin person,” Koob said.
Oh, we’re gonna drug you all right, we’re just not gonna let you decide which drugs you can take. We’re gonna decide when your habit turned into an addiction, we’re gonna decide which drugs are good and which are bad, and we’re gonna decide who needs treatment, especially with more drugs.
Big Pharma: We have a cure for everything.