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Could a Pill Cure Addiction?

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For those affected by alcoholism, quitting can be quite difficult. However, there may be a new form of treatment through prescription drugs. Naltrexone (17-(cyclopropylmethyl)-4, 5α-epoxy-3, 14-dihydroxymorphinan-6-one) has been used in combination with behavioral therapy and has very promising results.

Naltrexone is one of two drugs that have been used in alcoholism treatment tests. Topiramate, a drug used for epilepsy and migraine treatment, was tested by Dr. Bankole Johnson at the University of Virginia, and the results were that it reduced the amount of drinks that an alcoholic had. COMBINE, a federally funded study, showed that the combination of behavioral therapy and naltrexone also resulted in an alcoholic consuming less alcohol. Both drugs have shown not be addictive or have any significant side effects.

The mechanism of naltrexone is not fully known; however, naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist which is involved in the modulation of the dopaminergic mesolimbic pathway. The mesolimbic pathway in the brain originates in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain and projects to the limbic system through the nucleus accumbens, amygdala, the hippocampus, as well as to the medial prefrontal cortex. Dopamine is thought to be involved in alcoholism, as it reinforces reward responses. When naltrexone is introduced into an alcoholic’s system, it reduces the craving for alcohol.

However, naltrexone should not be seen as a cure-all. Currently, studies have only shown that it reduces the amount of alcohol consumed, not the complete eradication. In the case of addiction, any consumption of an addictive drug is not preferential. Nevertheless, it does open up treatment options for alcoholics who have not found behavioral therapy enough to kick the habit.

More on naltrexone:
CNN: With anti-addiction pill, ‘no urge, no cravings’
Wikipedia: Naltrexone

Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch is a bachelor's of science candidate in neuroscience at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Interesting post.The information on Naltrexone is new and quite informative for me.Hope I could suggest it to my friends who are suffering from severe addiction.Some useful and related information on the topic is also found in the following link,
May be they benefit the readers.

September 15, 2009 - 11:46pm
EmpowHER Guest

Yes, A Pill can CURE Alcoholism !!! The Sinclair Method works !! I am a cured alcoholic. I began drnking in 1972. I have tried AA, RR, MM, SOS, psychiatry, religion, and the like. I have been in 2 detoxes, 2 rehabs, and 1 mental ward due to alcoholism. I have lost 2 really good jobs and had many broken relationships. I tried AA for 15 years. I really tried, I got sponsors (all good, selfless men who only wanted to help), I did 90 in 90, I hit my knees, I read the big book, I chaired meetings, came early, left late, went for coffeee, made coffe, and did an honest 4th and 5th steps. I met many fine people in AA who got and stayed sober via the 12 steps. I applaud their success and I admire their dedication. I was dry for up to 5 years at a time but it jus tdid not work for me due to a variety of reasons. Several months ago I tried the Sinclair method. After 17 weeks of taking Naltrexone and drinking, I am now cured. I know people will say I'm in denial or that I was never a true alcoholic but I know the truth. Every cell in my body no longer craves alcohol, I have no fear of it and it no longer controls me. As long as I take my Naltrexone, I am able to drink socially, not alcoholically. I cannot adequately describe how I feel. All I can say is that I am free. I would like to add that I do not advocate TSM for everyone. If someone is sober in AA and is happy, joyous, and free then they should keep that up. If however you are struggling and are looking for a alternate way out then maybe you should give TSM a try. I think any method that helps you beat the beast is a good method.

August 26, 2009 - 12:04pm
EmpowHER Guest

Listen to how naltrexone used in the correct manner - with the Sinclair Method - helped a young woman who habitually 'drank to black-out' transform her life to break free from alcohol after 3 months at:

www.TheCureForAlcoholism.com - scroll down to Ella mp3

May 16, 2009 - 7:19am
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