Scientists have been hard at work researching ways to help those that suffer from addictions to alcohol. After two trials were conducted, one on humans and one on rats, there may be new hope for those that have developed alcohol dependencies.
In addition to treatment, medication that stabilizes the dopamine levels in a person’s brain seems to have a positive effect on minimizing the cravings for alcohol. Pia Steensland, the co-author of both studies, acknowledges that larger trials need to be conducted but that this is a positive step in the right direction and serves as a proof of concept. She is a neuroscientist at Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
People who struggle with alcoholism are often put on medications that cause an intense reaction when the patient consumes alcohol. These medications are given because they directly interact with the alcohol and prevent the person from feeling the effects of the substance. However, the medication is only effective if the person takes it. There are other medications used as well that have shown some results, though having more treatments available for people would be very beneficial.
This type of research is vital because every year 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition to those who have passed away, the U.S. currently has more than 16 million adults with some type of alcohol use disorder (AUD). The consequences of alcohol consumption spread far and wide.
This particular research targets dopamine levels in the brain. Someone under the influence of alcohol experiences increased dopamine levels, and then cravings kick in later seeking more. By targeting the dopamine directly, the results are that people will crave alcohol less, and that can be a life-saving assistant for someone in recovery. The study appeared in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.