Pharmacology and Alcoholism

Pharmacology and alcoholismPharmacology’s making it easier to stop drinking. As anyone familiar with alcoholism knows, getting alcohol out of the body is only the bare beginning. The reason alcoholics often return to drinking is due to the psychological obsession with alcohol, the ongoing craving for alcohol even after the body has been detoxified.

The alcoholic will crave alcohol long after detox, and this is why support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are important. It also helps when the recovering alcoholic has support from family and friends, from a physician, and, often, from ongoing counseling. If the recovering alcoholic starts nutrition and exercise plans, both will help the recovering person get past the mental obsession. After a few months, the brain will heal and the recovering alcoholic will not longer crave alcohol — it could happen even earlier, as we’re all different.

Now, pharmacology might offer one more tool to the recovering alcoholic to assist in that early, difficult part of recovery. It’s a medicine that’s usually prescribed for asthma. Here is an excerpt from Medical Daily:

Giving up alcohol isn’t the hardest part of overcoming alcoholism — the subsequent cravings are what lead most to relapse. A new study from UCLA may have a way to better address these cravings. According to the research, a drug commonly used in Japan to treat asthma also has the unexpected side effect of quelling a desire for alcohol by reducing the pleasurable effects of drinking. The findings could one day make the drug a candidate for use in alcohol abuse treatments.

According to a study now published online in  Neuropsychopharmacology, the drug ibudilast significantly lowers user’s cravings for alcohol and helps to improve their mood when confronted with alcohol which they are not allowed to drink. In addition, the drug seems to alleviate user’s depression, a condition very common in heavy drinkers.

Recovering alcoholics need all the help they can get. Hopefully, this asthma medicine can be turned into an approved medicine for the treatment of alcoholism. It’s hard to describe the obsession with alcohol that tortures the alcoholic mind — it confounds loved ones, friends, employers and even medical professionals. It seems insane for a person to crave something that’s killing them, but this is the nature of alcoholism — now, hopefully, there’s more help to deal with this chronic brain disease.

Alcohol, drugs and nutrition

alcohol, drugs and nutrition

Nutrition in recovery

Alcohol, drugs and nutrition — when it comes to preventable illnesses, disabilities and deaths, addiction is the top cause. This is amazing when you think of the lack of resources available to deal with addiction. Insurance companies haven’t treated addiction like other causes of illness, disability and death, and the big question is WHY? You would think for financial reasons alone insurance companies would want to invest in reducing preventable illness, disability and death. Addiction costs insurance companies billions of dollars, and much of these costs can be prevented with better coverage and treatment. If there’s better coverage, there will be better treatment.

But those addicted to alcohol and other drugs can’t wait for insurance companies to see the light — they have to develop recovery programs that are comprehensive. What’s often neglected in addiction treatment programs is a focus on nutrition. Mainly the neglect is because treatment facilities can’t afford a nutrition program. But in long term recovery, nutrition should be a main part of recovery management. Alcohol and other drugs do a lot of damage to the body and brain, and if this damage is not repaired to the highest degree possible recovery is negatively affected. Illnesses and conditions caused by alcohol can include:

 

  • Liver disease. Heavy drinking can cause alcoholic hepatitis — an inflammation of the liver. After years of heavy drinking, hepatitis may lead to irreversible destruction and scarring of liver tissue (cirrhosis).
  • Digestive problems. Heavy drinking can result in inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), as well as stomach and esophageal ulcers. It also can interfere with absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients. Heavy drinking can damage your pancreas — which produces hormones that regulate your metabolism and enzymes that help digestion — and lead to inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis).
  • Heart problems. Excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure and increases your risk of an enlarged heart, heart failure or stroke.
  • Diabetes complications. Alcohol interferes with the release of glucose from your liver and can increase the risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This is dangerous if you have diabetes and are already taking insulin to lower your blood sugar level.
  • Sexual function and menstruation. Excessive drinking can cause erectile dysfunction in men. In women, it can interrupt menstruation.
  • Eye problems. Over time, heavy drinking can cause involuntary rapid eye movement (nystagmus) as well as weakness and paralysis of your eye muscles due to a deficiency of vitamin B-1 (thiamine).
  • Birth defects. Alcohol use during pregnancy may cause fetal alcohol syndrome, resulting in giving birth to a child who has physical and developmental problems that last a lifetime.
  • Bone loss. Alcohol may interfere with the production of new bone. This can lead to thinning bones (osteoporosis) and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Neurological complications. Excessive drinking can affect your nervous system, causing numbness and pain in your hands and feet, disordered thinking, dementia and short-term memory loss.
  • Weakened immune system. Excessive alcohol use can make it harder for your body to resist disease, making you more susceptible to illnesses.
  • Increased risk of cancer. Long-term excessive alcohol use has been linked to a higher risk of many cancers, including mouth, throat, liver, colon and breast cancer. Even moderate drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer.

The above is just from alcohol. Other drugs cause other physical illnesses and conditions, such as:

  • Contraction of HIV, hepatitis and other illnesses
  • Heart rate irregularities, heart attack
  • Respiratory problems such as lung cancer, emphysema and breathing problems
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • Seizures, stroke, brain damage
  • Changes in appetite, body temperature and sleeping patterns

A good nutrition program will help heal the body and create a sense of well-being that enhances addiction recovery. Here’s a site that can help someone get started with a good program. Always develop a nutrition program with the input of your physician.