Scientists from the University of Wisconsin have identified compounds that could reduce craving for alcohol with very few side effects. The betacarboline compounds could well steer the way for next generation treatment of alcoholism as the drugs can be consumed orally.
It is not clear what are the exact causes of alcoholism but it is a known fact that the urge to drink is related to the brain’s pleasure centre. Whenever one consumes alcohol, the brain releases neurochemi cal dopamine. At present drugs available to treat alcoholism target dopamine but they indirectly make a person depressed. The drug does not allow a person to experience happiness when he consumes alcohol. Another shortcoming of these drugs is that they are addictive which can lead to drug abuse.
Scientists therefore looked forward to developing a drug with the same effect but without side effects. In an experiment conducted on rats bred to crave alcohol, researchers administered the rodents with betacarboline compounds which diminished the rats’ urge to drink alcohol. The results were promising as scientists observed very few side effects such as depression and losing the ability to experience pleasure. The drug reduced anxiety in alcoholic rats but not in control rats. Researchers are of the opinion that if everything goes well then a drug could be available in the next five to six years.