SEP 28, 2015 10:03 PM PDT

Diabetes Drug May Help Alcohol Addiction

WRITTEN BY: Ilene Schneider
Swedish study suggests that diabetes drug can reduce alcohol dependence.A major health and accident problem in today's society, alcohol dependence causes death, health issues and serious injuries. All told, the costs for alcohol dependence in Sweden are estimated to be about 45 billion SEK (Swedish krona) per year.
 
Nearly 5 percent of the adult population in Sweden have been diagnosed with alcohol dependence, which corresponds to about 300 000 people. Even more people in Sweden are subject to alcohol consumption that is potentially harmful. About 15 percent of the people in Sweden consume more than 14 standard drinks per week (men) or more than nine standard drinks per week (women).
 
A new research study conducted on mice and rats at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, in Sweden reveals that a medication used for diabetes and obesity also could be a valuable tool for the treatment of alcohol dependence. The study demonstrates that interfering with the hormone GLP-1 could be a viable target for treating alcohol dependence. Researchers have determined that a drug that resembles GLP-1, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes as well as obesity, could be used to treat alcohol dependence as well, according to an article in Drug Discovery & Development
 
Normally, dopamine is released in the brain's reward center in response to drinking alcohol. This leads to a sense of euphoria. The GLP-1-like substance limits the ability of alcohol to increase dopamine in reward areas in the mice. The researchers believe that this suggests that the mice no longer experience a reward from alcohol.
 
Additionally, the diabetes medication caused the rats to reduce their alcohol intake, as well as reducing the impetus to drink alcohol in rats that were bred to consume a great deal of alcohol. The medication also kept the rats from relapse drinking. Relapses pose a major problem for alcohol dependent individuals.
 
According to Elisabet Jerlhag, researcher at Sahlgrenska Academy, "The GLP-1-like substance reduced the alcohol consumption by 30 to 40 percent in rats that drank large quantities of alcohol for several months."
 
There are similar mechanisms that appear to regulate alcohol dependence and binge eating. The hormone GLP-1 is released from the intestines when people eat, causing them to feel sated. It is also released in the brain, thereby reducing food intake.
 
Jerlhag concluded, "The results of the present study suggest that the physiological role of GLP-1 extends beyond glucose homeostasis and food intake regulation and includes modulation of development of alcohol dependence. In addition, we suggest that medications that resemble GLP-1 could be used to treat alcohol dependence in humans. This will now be studied further." 
 
About the Author
  • Ilene Schneider is the owner of Schneider the Writer, a firm that provides communications for health care, high technology and service enterprises. Her specialties include public relations, media relations, advertising, journalistic writing, editing, grant writing and corporate creativity consulting services. Prior to starting her own business in 1985, Ilene was editor of the Cleveland edition of TV Guide, associate editor of School Product News (Penton Publishing) and senior public relations representative at Beckman Instruments, Inc. She was profiled in a book, How to Open and Operate a Home-Based Writing Business and listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Advertising and Who's Who in Media and Communications. She was the recipient of the Women in Communications, Inc. Clarion Award in advertising. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Ilene and her family have lived in Irvine, California, since 1978.
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