(dailyRx News) It might be possible to block pleasure receptors for both smoking and drinking with one pharmaceutical swoop. Heavy drinkers report drinking less alcohol after taking the anti-smoking drug—Chantix.
Researchers took a drug already out on the market for smoking cessation and tried it on smokers who also drink heavily. The reduction in drinking was quite promising.
Jennifer Mitchell PhD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco, led a study to understand the smoking cessation drug – varenicline, brand name Chantix.
There is research that suggests a nicotine receptor in the brain also enhances the rewarding effects of alcohol. This is why a lot of people only crave cigarettes or smoke more when they drink alcohol.
The FDA approved smoking cessation drug, Chantix, appears to block the pleasure effects of the nicotine receptor that enhances the rewarding effects of alcohol.
64 heavy-drinking smokers who sought help with quitting smoking were studied for 16 weeks for the effects of Chantix on their drinking behavior and alcohol cravings.
The study results showed that people on Chantix lowered their weekly consumption of alcohol by 36 percent. The number of times per week the subjects drank alcohol remained the same, but they drank fewer drinks per session.
Mitchell stated, “If you currently drink seven drinks a night, and we can turn that into two or three, then you’re not only drinking at a level that’s going to harm you less, you’re less likely to harm others, as well. If we could lower the rates of drunk driving, spousal and child abuse and other secondary effects of alcoholism, that would be tremendous.”
Further studies will need to be done to determine if Chantix will work on heavy-drinking non-smokers.
This study was published in the journal Psychopharmacology, May 2012. Funding for the research was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the State of California funds for medical research on alcohol and substance abuse through the University of California San Francisco.
Varenicline is also known as Chantix and is manufactured by Pfizer Inc. Though Pfizer donated Varenicline to the study they did not fund it nor were they involved with the research. No conflicts of interest were reported.