Oxytocin As Treatment for Alcoholism

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Oxytocin As Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disease that needs professional intervention.

According to statistics, around 16 million Americans are suffering from alcohol use disorder. With that staggering number, researchers are finding and testing new methods of treatment for alcoholism.

Current research on the connection between alcohol and oxytocin is still in the testing phase on animals. Before we dive deeper into this, let’s first cover what we know about alcohol abuse and its available treatments.

What Are the Current Alcoholism Treatment Drugs Available?

Years of research has made it possible for medical professionals to present different alcoholism treatment drugs to people who abuse alcohol. Still, experts continue to find new medications. They also find ways to improve the cost, effectiveness, and accessibility of treatment to people with an alcohol use disorder.

According to Professor Barbara Mason of the Pearson Center for Alcoholism & Addiction Research, medications play a vital role in the combination of treatment for alcoholism. Individuals that received prescription medications did a lot better than people who didn’t take any pill at all.

Here are the alcoholism treatment drugs prescribed to people suffering from alcoholism:

1. Campral (Acamprosate)

Campral is the recently approved treatment for alcoholism in the United States. It normalizes the changes that happen in the brain when people quit drinking. Campral also reduces the emotional discomfort and physical distress that occurs during post-acute withdrawal syndrome.

2. Antabuse (Disulfiram)

This is the first approved treatment for alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. It causes a severe adverse reaction when the person who took Antabuse drinks alcohol. In most cases, the person will vomit after a drink. With that, they feel like this reaction will discourage a person to touch another glass of alcohol.

3. Naltrexone

Naltrexone is more commonly known by its brand names: Depade or Revia. There’s another version of injectable Naltrexone called Vivitrol. This treatment drug for alcoholism blocks the “high” that people feel when they consume alcohol, cocaine, and heroin.

Alcohol and Oxytocin: What to Know?

The Scripps Research Institute and the National Institutes of Health spearheaded a study in 2019. They tested whether amounts of oxytocin could minimize the alcohol consumption of rats with an alcohol dependence problem. Now, will that work as a treatment for alcoholism in humans?

What is Oxytocin?

It is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus. Then, the pituitary gland releases it throughout the body. Oxytocin has a role in human relationships, childbirth, lactation, and uterine contractions. It is a chemical messenger in the brain and is more commonly known as the “love hormone.”

This hormone helps regulate the reward and stress systems in the human brain. An article published in Science Daily shows that oxytocin decreases drug-seeking behaviors, withdrawal symptoms, and consumption. This hormone could greatly help alcoholics recover from their addiction.

As studies are still limited, the goal is to further understand the connection between alcohol and oxytocin and whether it is a viable treatment option for people with an alcohol use disorder.

Oxytocin as Treatment for Alcoholism: How Would It Work?

The hypothesis of researchers from the NIH and the Scripps Research Institute is that oxytocin could normalize the changes that occur in the brain on an alcohol-dependent individual. The belief is that it will reduce behaviors related to alcohol use.

With studies still ongoing, the answer to a question like, “Are low levels of oxytocin linked to alcoholism?” is still unclear. Existing research shows that with oxytocin, alcohol-dependent rats were discouraged from excessive drinking. Researchers say that the signals from the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid were blocked by the oxytocin.

This prevented the substance from reaching specific parts of the brain that causes intoxication. With the developments in the rat study, researchers are leaning on the idea that a disruption to the oxytocin system is connected to alcoholism.

What Happens to the Body While Intoxicated?

Knowing the effects of alcohol to the human body will help you have a better understanding of the 2019 study. Remember that alcohol has sedative and depressant effects. While intoxicated, an individual experiences the following:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Lessened inhibitions
  • Impaired physical coordination
  • Slow neural activity and brain function

A 2015 study conducted by researchers from the University of Sydney showed potential that oxytocin has an influence on the effects of alcohol. The first group of rats wasn’t given alcohol, the second one was given alcohol, and the third was given oxytocin and alcohol.
The rats were given a sobriety test — where the group that received oxytocin didn’t show lack of coordination. On the other hand, the group that received alcohol was impaired. Still, oxytocin therapy as a treatment for alcoholism in humans is still not established.
There’s hope that oxytocin therapy will become a treatment for alcoholism as it may dramatically decrease a person’s cravings and consumption of alcohol.

Haven House Is Here for You

The time to start recovery from alcoholism is today.

We are a reputable recovery center around Murfreesboro. Our doors are open for men who are seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Haven House’s faith-based facility, provides a 12-step, Christian-based treatment approach. Call us today!