One Drug Stops Dependence on Alcohol and Smoking

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

August 2, 2005

According to experts, most people who are dependent on alcohol are also dependent on cigarettes, both of which are very hard to quit. Now, there is a new drug in the trial phase that can help people quit both with one pill.

Smoking and drinking often go hand in hand and they are also the number one and number three most preventable cause of death in the western world, according to experts.

"It's very easy to become dependent on it, and very, very difficult to get off of it," said Mary Lynn Mathre, of the Addiction Recovery Clinic at Pantops.

Now there is a new drug in the trial phase that experts from UVa said will help conquer both addictions.

"What we did was conduct a 12 week trial of which individuals got either the Topiramate or the placebo and we looked to see what their response was in terms of drinking outcome and the smoking outcome," said Dr. Bankole Johnson, a UVa Psychiatrist.

The results showed people that took the drug were three and a half times more likely to quit smoking and six times more likely to quit drinking. The drug interferes with the brain's response to both dependents.

"It interferes with two neurotransmitters and it basically stops the signals that are sent from the middle part of the brain to the front of the brain when an individual starts to drink or smoke," said Johnson.

Essentially killing the buzz, which is what Mathre said is part of the recovery process.

"The hope is that this new drug will help patients. My guess is that it won't help all of them, nothing does seem to work for everyone but, this is another piece of hope to help reduce that craving for patients so that when they do go, if they do go back and use alcohol, they are not going to get the same feeling and therefore won't relapse as frequently," said Mathre.

Due to this research experts said the door is now open to treating other addictive behavior.

People taking Topiramate during the study also lost weight. The second trial phase is currently being studied and experts said the final results will be out next year.

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