New Treatment For AlcoholismOxytocin Reduces Alcohol Consumption
Despite alcohol addiction ransacking the lives of countless individuals, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon. Because of this, and the damage that alcohol does to the brain and body, research revolves around finding a cure. Fortunately, a potentially new treatment for alcoholism may have been working within our brains all along.
Recent studies show that oxytocin, a naturally occurring brain chemical, may provide insight into curbing chronic alcohol abuse. A new drug for alcoholism would revolutionize treatment by further aiding rehab efforts to promote long-term sobriety.
Ironically, with all of the marketing and suggestive selling, alcohol continues to top the charts as the most used substance. Not only is it widely abused, but comes with an unusually high potential for addiction. Scientific studies based on using oxytocin as a new treatment for alcoholism may be just what the doctor ordered. In truth, it couldn’t come soon enough.
Working Toward Breakthroughs In Addiction Research
Finding the most effective and innovative new treatments for alcoholism is an ongoing challenge. Countless studies are performed regularly, hoping to gain complete insight as to how addiction impacts the addict. From therapists to rehab counselors, with doctors and nurses, the collective legion seeking to eradicate substance dependency is relentless. Most importantly, at the front of the line, are alcoholics themselves, desperate for a breakthrough new drug for alcoholism.
Working together, to gather and share their findings among several areas of focus, helps to examine the interaction between fields. Although each individual is affected differently by their dependency, the universally affected systems are:
- Bodily functions
- Brain neurochemical distribution
- Emotional responses (or lack thereof)
Alcohol-addicted individuals participating in these studies also take part in sober-reinforcing programs. These often include group therapy and coping skills, meetings, or therapeutic and psychological intervention in the case of dual diagnosis.
Collection Of Data and Value Of Clinical Findings
Every step of the way, the addict’s performance and response to multiple therapies are recorded and compared. This not only closes in on the procedures that are most effective for individuals but also highlights the least valuable. Using these statistics, different treatment options can be added or excluded, or even reformatted for better results. Even with a higher margin of error due to the enormous amount of individuals addicted to alcohol, similarities are measurable.
Needless to say, this is not an easy or expedited process, and several results tend to vary by individual. Because of this, there are many standard programs offered to the individual throughout the process, to ensure relevance. For example, it is standard to include some type of individual therapy, which, in itself, provides quality feedback.
By relentlessly evaluating these types of clinical addiction rehab assets, significant strides continue to be made. Using the information collected to reflect the progress made during each program, trial and error conclude. Findings consider which individuals were exposed to each trial, with their ability to maintain sobriety, by measuring success versus ineffectiveness.
Scientists working collectively may have come across a new treatment for alcoholism. And although the potential is newly observed, most surprisingly, it may have been there all along.
Brain And Biology Factors Studied To Decode Addiction
Besides making observations and evaluations based on the outward experiences of participants, there’s also an irrefutable neurochemical side of the equation. This is where medicine and science come together, resulting in evidence-based findings. This is why treatment options like partial hospitalization, tend to have high success rates, as they cover rehab efforts comprehensively.
One of the factors that have to be taken into account, is the brain biology of each human being evaluated. Thanks to this constant, being that each participant indeed had a brain, the study of neurological makeup is exceedingly relevant. By studying the areas of the brain that are specifically related to developing and sustaining addiction, trial and error ensued. Within this area of study, researchers decode DNA, looking for sequences that suggest genetic or environmental predispositions toward addictive behavior.
New Treatment For Alcoholism Has Proven Beneficial
The area of research, based on pharmaceutical intervention for addiction, has made significant advancements in the past. This science is responsible for having formerly developed what was once considered a new treatment for alcoholism. Known as medication-assisted therapy (MAT), the program uses synthetic chemicals to manipulate the effects of certain drugs.
For example, a medication called Antabuse was developed to induce nausea and vomiting when alcohol was ingested. Then another, Naltrexone, leaves the alcoholic devoid of the euphoric buzz upon consumption. Interfering with the cycle of addiction is a general idea, along with sustainability, when developing a new treatment for alcoholism. So although these drugs work beautifully for the purposes that they were designed to target, they have their drawbacks.
The Demand For A New Drug For Alcoholism
While there are some medications currently available to treat addiction and alcoholism, there are always reasons to further evolve. For one, these drugs are just that… drugs. Synthetic and manipulated chemicals are used to develop medications used to aid in recovery and serve their purpose. But they are man-made, and may not be suitable for everyone.
Available by prescription, they’re specifically considered beneficial when under the close supervision of a professional, meaning doctor approval is necessary. Because of the need for supervision and oversight, many rehabs today still reject these therapeutic drugs. Instead, they rely on a holistic approach that has also shown promising outcomes. Which calls upon the next controversial aspect… the potential for abuse.
The Controversy: Drugs to Treat Addiction?
Using prescription medications to treat addictions can be considered to walking a fine line to some. Under certain circumstances, MAT is more liberally used to treat addictions with acute withdrawal, such as heroin addiction. Although effective to curb cravings for more deadly drugs, pharmaceutical therapy becoming a trade-off addiction is a controversial topic. Nonetheless, weighing the options under the guidance of a professional will always be the best route for treatment. Realistically, some addicts are just not eligible.
Prescription For Addiction: Is It Enough?
Last but not least, therapeutic medications are not designed to be used long-term. Benefits aside, they are synthetic, meaning they do not naturally occur in the body, which can be problematic and unsustainable. The entire focus of rehabilitation from addiction is to break free from the unhealthy connection between dependent emotions and behaviors. Placing too much responsibility on these drugs could be counterproductive, especially to those already prone to codependent tendencies. It’s because of this, researchers decided to look internally for other options to utilize as a new treatment for alcoholism.
Looking Inward For An Organic Solution
On their quest for developing a new drug for alcoholism, researchers started at the top… literally. Because of the enormous capacity that the brain has to manipulate the chemicals within, it’s an ideal place to start. These naturally occurring chemicals, called neurotransmitters, are essential for healthy cognitive function and are already in supply. These chemicals do a lot of things, like relay messages of stress and trauma, or opposingly, happiness and excitement. That’s why oxytocin became of specific interest as a potential new treatment for alcoholism.
What Is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is a hormone that is produced in the brain, or more specifically, the pituitary gland. One function of this hormone is to behave as a neurotransmitter, relaying messages from one system to another. Oxytocin is a chain-like make up of amino acids that form a protein. When released, its purpose is to send a signal from the endocrine system to other cells, inspiring a response. In other words, oxytocin is not just the messenger, but also the translator.
What Suggests Oxytocin Has Potential To Become A New Treatment For Alcoholism?
Oxytocin stands out specifically, because of the functions it regulates. It responds to physical sensations such as touch, particularly, intimate and welcomed touch. Oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone because of the bonding sensation and induction of satisfaction it induces. Notably, oxytocin is notoriously responsible for the chemical rush in response to intercourse, in both men and women.
The neurotransmitter oxytocin is responsible for:
- Feelings of intimacy
- Sexual arousal
- Parental/Maternal bond (responsible for the mother-child connection)
- Feelings of empathy
- Capacity to trust
- Relaxation hormone, ability to be content
- Feeling psychologically secure
- Feeling satisfied and accomplished
However, oxytocin is not just some love-crazed neurotransmitter. Realistically, it is released whenever a person finds themselves in a safe, comfortable situation. For examples, such as during meditation, yoga, or prayer. Not only are these signals sent out, when practicing mindful meditation, but oxytocin is also released distinctly in high amounts.
Oxytocin: What Researchers Know So Far About This New Treatment For Alcoholism
Despite being considered as a “new” treatment for alcoholism presently, previous studies have hypothesized the benefits of oxytocin on addiction. The neurochemical has indeed proven to have the capability of deterring excessive alcohol consumption. However, until now, the exact mechanism as to why it works had remained unknown.
This posed two issues.
First, oxytocin, used as a new drug for alcoholism, was only observed to work selectively, meaning differently for different people. This leaves room to consider whether alternative treatment opportunities are impacting results. Certain factors may have contributed toward these inconsistent findings, such as making strides in treatment or adjusting to sobriety. Or, that potentially the benefits of improved life skills are swaying psychological reactions.
Second, no one understood the function of how it worked. Just that it was significantly effective when used to deter excessive drinking behaviors. To be able to consider oxytocin as a realistic and workable new drug for alcoholism, collecting data on these issues became crucial.
Oxytocin: New Treatment For Alcoholism To Stopping The Cravings?
Regularly, when science and medicine make data-based discoveries, it is not without standard trials that often include animals, in this case, rats. So naturally, when digging deeper into the beneficial functions of a new drug for alcoholism, such trials were conducted.
The hypothesis of the study was based on the assumption that oxytocin can be used as a new treatment for alcoholism. More specifically, it does so by correcting the alterations made to brain function that were damaged by addiction. Based on previous research, oxytocin makes for a promising new drug for alcoholism because when introduced inorganically, it:
- Reduces the desire for excessive consumption
- Decreases the severity and frequency of withdrawal symptoms
- Reduced behaviors of addiction, such as seeking substances to abuse, or chasing increased euphoria
Based on oxytocin’s positive attributes and functions, getting to the root of the “why” and “how” determines malleability.
Most Recent Studies Provide Evidence Of Effectiveness For New Treatment For Alcoholism
In the most recent study, using rats, the focus was placed on a particular part of the brain called the amygdala. Oxytocin was introduced, and the amygdala was observed closely. This decision was made due to its contribution to triggering addiction and responses to stress. It is important to note that the subjects undergoing the procedure were diagnosed as dependent on alcohol, thereby mimicking alcoholism in humans. What was discovered was the important role that the release of oxytocin played to induce the satisfaction of feeding addictions.
In other words, within the study, the most significant findings are as follows.
- Oxytocin, delivered to the appropriate area of the brain, bypasses the need to satisfy a craving for alcohol.
- Oxytocin interrupted messages sent by the neurotransmitter GABA, which would have further sustained the craving to ingest more alcohol.
- Oxytocin reduced the amount of alcohol consumed by rats that were addicted to alcohol.
- Oxytocin did not affect those without tolerance and dependency in the control group.
Based on the findings in this study, oxytocin would be a valuable stride forward for a new treatment for alcoholism. Particularly, noting the different effects on those with developed dependency and those without, it has the potential to do more.
What Research Is Next For Oxytocin As A New Treatment For Alcoholism?
Although it certainly requires further research, oxytocin may be a predisposition marker, determining an individual’s susceptibility to alcoholism, before dependency. This alone would be an incredibly innovative breakthrough in the rehab and recovery community, however, these studies take time. Yet, this doesn’t mean progress and treatment have to wait until then. There’s speculation that the development of nasal spray containing oxytocin may be added to MAT options, sooner than later.
New Drugs For Alcoholism Still Rely on Quality Rehab
Having a miracle new drug for alcoholism would certainly be just that, a miracle. But unfortunately, addiction is not that simple. The idea that introducing a single pill into a person’s routine would permanently cure alcoholism is regrettably farfetched.
Addiction treatment must cover all different angles, aside from the chemical reactions that trigger cravings. While oxytocin would be a great contributor to the alcohol-dependent community, recovery would still be challenging without complementing therapy.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a valuable treatment option that would complement any efforts to manage alcoholism. This therapy focuses on making new correlations between behaviors and emotions, replacing harmful drug-seeking ones. To say that an individual would be better off relying solely on a new drug for alcoholism threatens overall wellness. For a healthy, long-lasting recovery, programs that focus on the individual as a whole, show the best overall success rates.
Combining Innovation With Proven Effective Treatment
Essentially, the best course of action, taken by the rehab community, will be in support of collaboration. Outpatient treatment that relies on therapy proven to aid in sobriety is always evolving. However, using the confirmed knowledge that addictive behaviors originate predominantly on an emotional and psychological level, introducing oxytocin enhances possibilities. Even better, oxytocin would be considered less of a risk, in terms of negative reactions, as it’s found naturally within. This is exceptional news for those suffering from an alcohol use disorder as a new treatment for alcoholism and dependency.
You Don’t Have To Wait For A Miracle Drug To Break Free From Alcoholism
Waiting for a miracle drug to cure addiction will only waste time, making alcoholism worse along the way. Getting substance abuse under control and learning how to cope with triggers is all part of life in sobriety. No one says it’s going to be easy, but it is always worth it. To get information on programs that are using new treatments for alcoholism, connect with a rehab today. Reliable rehab programs are available to those in need, and committing to getting sober can happen right now. Just like everything, recovery is a system of trial and error. However, you may never get the results, if you never test yourself and your determination, to get and stay sober.