Smoking meds for alcoholics?

Smoking-cessation medication may treat alcoholism, too

A medication that helps smokers quit also has potential to reduce alcohol dependence, a study finds.

The study, conducted by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, found that varenicline (marketed as Chantix) lowered alcohol consumption and craving in those who were alcohol-dependent, according to a National Institutes of Health press release. Of the 200 alcohol-dependent adults studied, female participants reported drinking an average of 28 alcoholic beverages a week prior to the study, while men averaged 35 drinks a week. Compared to a placebo, varenicline reduced the number of days participants drank heavily by nearly 22 percent.

Varenicline works by stimulating receptors for nicotinic acetylcholine, a “molecular target implicated in both nicotine and alcohol disorders,” states the press release.

“Drinking and smoking often co-occur, and given their genetic and neurochemical similarities, it is perhaps unsurprising that a smoking-cessation treatment might serve to treat alcohol problems,” said Raye Z. Litten, the study’s lead author.