Common heart medication may help people with alcohol use disorder

Common heart medication may help people with alcohol use disorder

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A common heart and blood pressure drug could see a second act as a treatment for alcohol use disorder, according to new government research this week. The study found evidence in rodents and humans that the drug spironolactone can reduce cravings and alcohol consumption.

Spironolactone has been in the medicine cabinet for decades, having been first discovered in the late 1950s. It is a type of steroid primarily used for its diuretic effect, meaning it induces loss of fat. water and sodium by an increase in urine output. It has long been used to reduce fluid buildup caused by conditions such as heart failure and kidney disease., reducing the risk of later serious complications; it is also used in combination with other medications to reduce high blood pressure.

Over the years it has become apparent that spironolactone is useful for other health conditions beyond these indications. Because it can block the production of androgen hormones related to excess oil production, for example, it is sometimes used to treat acne in women (in men it causes low testosterone levels which are not worth the side effects). And some research has begun to show that spironolactone-inhibited receptors may also play a role in driving alcohol consumption. If so, then the drug could help people with alcohol use disorder, a chronic disease with few treatments.

To better understand the drug’s potential, researchers at the National Institutes of Health decided to study its effects on mice and rats that were tricked into becoming drunk or dependent on alcohol. They found that increasing doses of spironolactone resulted in a corresponding decrease in alcohol consumption in both types of rodents, male and female, and with no possible adverse effects such as decreased appetite for food and alcohol. water.

A second part of the research analyzed the medical records of patients treated by veterans Business, the nation’s largest integrated health care system. Compared with similarly matched control patients who were not taking the drug, VA patients on spironolactone for other conditions reported a greater reduction in alcohol consumption afterward. And this reduction was greatest in people who reported the highest levels of alcohol consumption before taking the drug, as well as in people who took the highest doses of spironolactone.

These discoveries, published Tuesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, isn’t the kind of definitive evidence needed to endorse spironolactone as a new treatment for alcohol use disorders. But the different data sources make it clear that it’s now worth spending the time and resources to find out for sure, the authors say.

“These are very encouraging results,” study author George Koob, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said in a statement. statement from the NIH. “Taken together, this study argues for conducting randomized, controlled studies of spironolactone in people with alcohol use disorders to further assess its safety and potential efficacy in this population, as well as further work to understand how spironolactone can reduce alcohol consumption.”

There are three approved drugs for alcohol use disorder. Only two of these drugs, naltrexone and acamprosate, are considered effective first-line treatments (the third drug, disulfiram, causes such as nausea when a person tries to drink and is generally only recommended as a last resort). So, more treatments are definitely needed for this difficult to manage condition. This is valued that 14.5 million Americans struggle with an alcohol use disorder, defined as a chronic physical and emotional dependence on alcohol that harms themselves and others. But less than 10% of those affected have received treatment in the past year, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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