Alcoholism Breakthrough? The Pill That Could Curb Cravings

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LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Alcohol is everywhere, but local doctors warn that recent statistics are nothing to ‘cheers’ about.

In the past ten years, it’s estimated more than 200,000 people have died in alcohol-related accidents

And in 2012 alone, alcoholic liver diseases killed more than 15,000 people.

Now, doctors say that a pill could help curb that craving to drink.

“When I started with alcohol or beer, I was the guy who would start Thursday night and would finish Sunday feeling awful,” says “Eric.”

Like most alcoholics, Eric admits there is nothing happy about happy hour when your body becomes physically addicted to booze.

“I think what people don’t understand is that somehow people think that you are having a good time when you have an addiction problem,” he says.

“That somehow this person is partying — and what you are trying to do when your body is dependent on alcohol is just feel normal and it’s almost impossible to maintain.”

For many who hit the bottle too hard, life becomes chaos — jobs are lost and loved ones leave.

The Agoura Hills man had been on the wagon before, but like the 90 percent of alcoholics who relapse, he just couldn’t stay there.

“It had gotten so bad for me that I was either asking God to help me or take me,” Eric says.

Hope came inside another kind of bottle — a prescription bottle.

Founder of Inspire Malibu, Dr. Mohammad, says there may not be a magic pill to cure alcoholism, but there are non-habit forming drugs that can help curb the craving to consume.

“Antabuse was the first to be FDA approved. If you are taking this white pill and order something on tap — the person will get really sick,” says Dr. Mohammad.

Naltrexone is a tablet that blocks the “high” people get from sucking down spirits, while Vivitrol injections do the same.

And something called Campral is the most recently approved medication. It restores the chemical balance in the brain after chronic alcohol abuse.

“I would recommend people suffering from alcoholism — not only that but are relapsing,  they are struggling with sobriety — these are the patients I would recommend they take some kind of medication,” Dr. Mohammad says.

Alcoholism is considered a life-long disease, but with eight months of sobriety at Eric’s back, he can finally see the light.

“Seek help. There is plenty of help out there, and if you do it the right way you can find joy like you never knew,” Eric says.

Addiction specialists like Dr. Mohammad insist that therapy and environmental changes, plus family and friend support, are also integral parts of treating alcohol addiction.

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  • Daisy may

    What's going to happen to all the rehab people, they will be without jobs, the cops won't have anyone to arrest for domestic violence and the jails will be empty…OMG… what will all the angry drunks have to do anymore ??? Oh it's only 8:30 in the morning, after reading that, i need a drink to…lol…

  • David M

    If anything, This pill would encourage alcohol abuse. To be able to switch off the drunk, is every alcoholics dream. Curing alcoholism would require addressing the specific liver enzyme deficiencies that exist in the estimated 10% of the population. the following explains the process.

    To understand this, the biochemistry of alcoholism must be described. Don’t let this scare you; it’s really quite simple. Once understood, almost everything that seemed crazy and implausible about human behavior, whether public or private begins to make sense.

    The human body converts alcohol first into a poison, acetaldehyde, and then into acetate, both of which find their way to the brain. While the former substance—in the same class of chemicals as formaldehyde—perversely makes the drinker feel good, the latter causes feelings of nausea, hangover and sleepiness. Now think about it: if a person experiences a quick conversion into acetate, he feels lousy or sleepy and is unlikely to keep drinking. If, on the other hand, the body blocks the conversion of acetaldehyde into acetate, the former works its magic and he feels good. It shouldn’t be surprising if this person, experiencing a buildup of the former substance and little or no increase in the latter, continues to drink. Therefore, the speed at which the body converts alcohol into acetate determines a person’s predisposition to alcoholism.

    It’s that simple.

    The non-alcoholic’s liver slowly turns alcohol into acetaldehyde, then quickly into acetate. As a result, there is little or no buildup of poison in the brain and instead quick feedback from the acetate-induced ill feeling, which serves to stop the drinking. This generally occurs at relatively low blood alcohol levels, usually .04 to .10 per cent. The top range is barely legally drunk for purposes of operating a motor vehicle.

    On the other hand, the alcoholic liver converts alcohol into acetaldehyde quickly and then into acetate slowly. There is no immediate feedback (nausea, etc.) suggesting that the drinker slow down. Instead, the buildup of acetaldehyde causes a release of “feel-good” neurotransmitters called isoquinolines, which are opiate-like substances. The “I’m feeling fine” response serves as positive feedback to keep on drinking. The top range of blood alcohol level-BAL-to which most non-alcoholics ever drink is where the typical addict is barely getting started. If it stopped there all would be well; after all, there’s nothing wrong with feeling really good. However, for alcoholics, this is where the problems begin.

    Unfortunately, acetaldehyde, the poison, causes brain damage. Evidence that this occurs even during the hidden early stages (usually the first drinking occasions) is generally observable almost immediately in behaviors. Most parents chalk this up to adolescence. However, the changes should be assumed alcohol or other drug-related unless proven otherwise. Eventually, as poor behaviors continue and actual evidence of addictive use is uncovered, we can attribute the transformation to alcoholism.

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