Dopamine stabilizers may be the future of alcoholism treatment. The findings of two separate studies indicate that dopamine stabilizers may reduce alcohol cravings in alcoholics, ScienceDaily reports. While more clinical studies are required, researchers have found that the dopamine stabilizer OSU6162 normalized the level of dopamine in the brain reward system of rats that had consumed alcohol for a long time period. The findings come from research conducted at the Karolinska Institutet and the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden.
“The results of our studies are promising, but there is still a long way to go before we have a marketable drug,” says Pia Steensland, PhD, Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience of Karolinska Institutet, and co-author of both studies. “The socioeconomic costs of alcohol are huge, not to mention the human suffering. It is inspiring to continue working.”
Researchers examined the effect that OSU6162 had on cravings of those with a history of alcohol dependence. The participants were split into two groups, half were given OSU6162 and the other half was given a placebo, according to the article. The group that was given the dopamine stabilizer reported having less of a craving for alcohol after drinking one drink.
“At the same time, the OSU6162 group reported not enjoying the first sip of alcohol as much as the placebo group,” says Dr. Steensland. “One interesting secondary finding was that those with the poorest impulse control, that is those thought to be most at risk of relapse after a period of abstinence, were those who responded best to the OSU6162 treatment.”
“We therefore think that OSU6162 can reduce the alcohol craving in dependent people by returning the downregulated levels of dopamine in their brain reward system to normal,” says Dr. Steensland.
The findings were published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.
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