Vareniciline may Increase the Unpleasant Effects of Alcohol

According to an ongoing research, the medicine Varenicline which is known for its smoking desistance properties has now been found to be helpful in reducing drinking too. Although the concrete results of the research will be made available by May 2012, the study so far has revealed the drinking cessation properties of Varenicline when its repercussions on physiological, subjective and objective responses to variable doses of alcohol among robust social drinkers were studied.

Though the means through which Varenicline effects drinking is still dubious and unclear, Emma Childs, research associate at the University of Chicago as well as corresponding author for the study said, “Varenicline was first approved in the USA for treatment of nicotine dependence in 2006. Smokers who use Varenicline are approximately two to three times more likely to remain abstinent six months or more after their quit date. After it was approved, several patients treated with Varenicline also reported reductions in their drinking, so investigators began to assess if this was an actual effect and how it might be produced.”
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The study which involved the assessment of 15 healthy people out of which 8 were males and the remaining were females, was carried out in six successive sessions: three sessions each with 2 mg Varenicline and Placebo, followed by a beverage containing Placebo, a low dose of alcohol (0.4g/kg), or a high dose of alcohol (0.8g/kg), three hours later. After alcohol administration, heart rate, blood pressure, drug stimulation, and the results of eye-tracking tasks were analyzed and the same were then compared with the measures before the intake of alcohol. It was found that the liking towards the drug was decreased and the unpleasant effects of alcohol were increased because of Varenicline.

Advocating the authenticity of these results, Hugh Myrick, associate professor of Psychiatry as well as Vice Chair of the Psychiatry Practice Plan at the Medical University of South Carolina said, “Since there is a high co-morbidity between nicotine and alcohol dependence, a single medication that could decrease the use of both substances would be ideal.” To explain the reasons responsible for reduction in alcohol use, Myrick offered two ways. The first possibility is the reduction in the rewarding aspect of alcohol and the second possibility included augmentation in the aversive aspects of alcohol. High intake of alcohol leads to its pleasurable effects, for instance, feeling buzzed and talkative but these can be made unpleasant by Varenicline which counteracts them.



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