Alcoholics May Find Hope In Asthma Drug For Fighting Addiction

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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A new study suggests a drug used to treat asthma in Japan may also help stem addiction cravings and aid recovering alcoholics kick the habit.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) are studying the effects of an anti-inflammatory drug called ibudilast as a safe option for alcoholics to conquer their addiction. The drug is primarily used in Japan to treat asthma, but early trials on rats revealed the potential for broader application.

Participants in the study at UCLA were split into two groups, one receiving doses of ibudilast and the other a placebo, and then switched after a two-week pause in the study, reports PsyPost.

As part of their tests, researchers had participants smell a glass of their favorite drink. The results showed alcoholics’ cravings were significantly diminished under the influence of ibudilast. Participants reported improved mood while using ibudilast. The researchers also tested the overall safety of ibudilast by giving participants an intravenous shot of alcohol equivalent to four drinks.

“We found that ibudilast is safe and well-tolerated,” Lara Ray, director of the UCLA Addictions Laboratory, said in a statement. “This medication can be safely administered, including when people are drinking alcohol. We’re excited to see that the strong animal data with ibudilast is now followed by our finding that ibudilast is well-tolerated in humans.”

The drug can bring some mild side effects like nausea and abdominal pain, but the symptoms are minor if they appear at all. The study’s authors note that none of the participants dropped out of the study.

The research adds to a growing body of tests looking into alternative treatment options for people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction. Medical marijuana may be beneficial in aiding addiction treatment for alcohol abuse and opioid dependency, according to recent studies.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia studied the relationship between marijuana use and mental health and tested its interaction with different illnesses. The research suggests marijuana can aid in curbing symptoms of severe anxiety and depression, conditions often associated with alcoholism and drug abuse.

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