New Drug May Help Reduce Alcohol Use

Since time immemorial, alcohol has been used by people as a means to escape from stress and worries. However, there are many people who use alcohol for the effect it has on the central nervous system (CNS). Apparently, people experiment with alcohol, especially during adolescence, simply out of curiosity or as a reaction to the social environment. Whatever be the driving force behind alcoholism it has, lately, become a major public health concern in the United States.

According to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the country.

While detoxification, rehabilitation, behavioral therapies or medications are currently being used to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the U.S., a new research by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has come up with a new drug to treat AUD.

Understanding effects of ABT-436 on vasopressin

Published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the study was led by Raye Litten, Ph.D., acting director of the NIAAA Division of Medications Development. Litten, along with his team of researchers, conducted a randomized clinical trial of a new compound known as ABT-436, which was designed to block the effects of vasopressin, a neuropeptide produced in the hypothalamus of the brain.

According to the researchers, the hormone regulates the pituitary adrenal axis and other brain circuits that are involved in human emotions, and thus, plays an important role in regulating stress and anxiety, as well as their interaction with AUD.

“Medications have become an important tool for treating alcohol use disorders, but current medications are not effective for all people with AUDs. We’re committed to developing new medications to provide effective therapy to a broader spectrum of people with AUDs,” said George F. Koob, Ph.D., NIAAA Director.

Participants with high stress levels respond better to ABT-436

The 12-week study analyzed 144 alcohol-dependent adult men and women. During the 28-day baseline period, the female participants were given at least 28 drinks per week, whereas the male participants received nearly 35. Following this, the participants were either given placebo tablets or ones containing the ABT-436 compound. Next, the alcohol consumption of the participants, along with their mood changes and smoking habits, were observed. The researchers found that participants who received ABT-436 experienced more days of alcohol abstinence as compared to those receiving only placebo. Moreover, participants who suffered from high stress levels responded better to ABT-436, both in terms of their frequency of drinking and the number of heavy drinking days.

“Our findings suggest that potential future studies with drugs targeting vasopressin blockade should focus on populations of people with AUD who also report high levels of stress,” said Megan Ryan, a clinical project manager in the NIAAA Division of Medications Development.

Recovery road map

It is likely that smokers may also benefit from ABT-436. This is because the study participants who received this compound not only reduced alcohol consumption but also curbed their smoking habits. The researchers believe that the compound is probably targeting the same brain areas that relate to withdrawal and stress, and thus, influence both tobacco use and AUD.

If you know someone who is addicted to alcohol and is looking for treatment facilities offering alcohol addiction support, get in touch with the 24/7 Alcohol Abuse Help. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866–480–6873, to know about the best centers offering help for alcohol addiction in different parts of the United States. Dial alcohol addiction helpline to know about various treatment options available in your vicinity.