A clinical trial into the drug helped patients cut the amount they consumed from 12.75 units a day to five units a day – a 61 per cent reduction. And patients who underwent counselling as well as taking the drug reduced their “heavy drinking days” from 23 days a month to nine days a month after undergoing the treatment for six months, researchers said.
Nalmefene is touted as having a longer half-life than naltrexone and less effect on the liver, per the first link.
While the study didn’t focus on people wanting to quit drinking, it seems this is an obvious use for it.
Sounds like a good addition to the toolbox. That said, per the first link, I do not know why it is not available in the US if it has some superiority to naltrexone.
Some interesting research funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says yes.
Using brain scans, researchers found that people in recovery from alcoholism who showed hyperactivity in areas of the prefrontal cortex during a relaxing scenario were eight times as likely to relapse as those showing normal brain patterns or healthy controls.
The prefrontal brain plays a role in regulating emotion, the ability to suppress urges, and decision-making. Chronic drinking may damage regions involved in self-control, affecting the ability to regulate cravings and resist relapse.
It certainly sounds sensical. That said, it will be a long time before rehabs, let alone general medical clinics, are offering fMRI scans to people in early recovery to check this.
But, we can take away from this that the idea of “triggers” is a real concern, if long-term drinking has affected those regulatory abilities.
And, the difference is significant:
The investigators found that individuals in recovery who showed patterns of heightened activity in the prefrontal region during the relaxing situation were much more likely to experience cravings for alcohol and subsequent relapse. These patterns of craving-related activity increased the likelihood of early relapse by 8.5 times and relapse to heavy drinking by 8.7 times. Abnormally low activity during the stressful scenario was also linked to greater number of days drinking after relapse.
So, while we’re far from the point of offering fMRIs, it seems like the need is there.
Meanwhile, keeping that idea of “triggers” handy sounds good.
Especially now that Lifering has gone public with its “dual diagnosis” email support list, this story from Scientific American is apropos to read. It’s primarily about PTSD in US military veterans, but due to PTSD occurrence being fairly high among alcoholics and addicts, it’s quite relevant to Lifering. It’s a good read for anybody who knows someone with PTSD, or someone suffering with its effects themselves.
It has a fair dose of “realism,” which I’ll note below the fold.
I can’t link this because the web site of the U.C. Berkeley Wellness Letter (to which I subscribe) is password protected; so I’m typing the whole thing out because it’s important. This is a WellnessFact from the February 2013 issue:
Alcohol dependence shortens the lives of millions of people worldwide, but is especially dangerous for women. A new German study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that while alcohol dependence (also called alcoholism) nearly doubles death rates in men, it more than quadruples them in women, shortening their lives by about 23 years. Alcohol dependence may be riskier for women because they end up with higher blood levels of alcohol and thus become more impaired than men from the same amount of alcohol; they also tend to develop damage to the liver, heart muscle, and brain at lower intakes.
Update: see an article from the Science Daily website about this study: click HERE
Dr. Gabor Mate, who is the keynote speaker at Lifering’s 2013 annual convention or Congress, discusses stress and addiction issues on Democracy Now. It’s a full hour of compilation of three interviews from 2010.
Here is the link to the program should the video not load.