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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Curbing Alcohol Cravings With Ibudilast

In recent years, the drugs like Naltrexone and Acamprosate have been used to treat alcoholics. While such drugs are classified as opioid antagonists, they have been shown to be effective at reducing cravings for alcohol. The drugs have proven to be useful inside and outside addiction treatment settings.

Cravings for any mind-altering substance can be one’s downfall, often leading to relapse for those working programs of recovery. It is for that reason that keeping one's cravings in check is of the utmost importance. Urges to use can creep up on people, and before you know it, one’s behavior can regress back to old ways of thinking about things. Essentially paving a road to relapse. If people in recovery are open and honest with their peers about their cravings, relapse can be avoided. But that isn't always an easy task.

Arguably, in a perfect world there would exist a drug that stops cravings altogether in the first place. In the meantime, those recovering from addiction must continue to make do with drugs that reduce cravings. While Naltrexone and Acamprosate are effective for some people, with others that is not the case. Researchers continue to create new drugs that can reduce cravings, or research drugs that were intended for something else.

As per the latter, addiction researchers have been experimenting with a drug called ibudilast, and have found that it can significantly reduce alcohol cravings in heavy drinkers, PsychCentral reports. Ibudilast is an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat asthma, mainly in Japan. The findings were published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and involved 17 men and seven women, according to the article. The participants reported drinking alcohol an average of 21 days per month and drinking seven alcoholic beverages per day when they drank. Study participants who were given ibudilast reported being in a better mood and having far less cravings for alcohol, than those who were not given the drug.

“We found that ibudilast is safe and well-tolerated,” said Dr. Lara Ray, a UCLA professor of psychology, director of the UCLA Addictions Laboratory and the study’s lead author. “This medication can be safely administered, including when people are drinking alcohol.” 

The researcher points out that none of the participants expressed a desire to quit drinking before the study. Moving forward, Dr. Ray plans on studying the drug with participants that are heavy drinkers who want to stop drinking.

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