Alcohol dependency has — until now — been treated almost solely with mental and emotional healing, like going to AA meetings and working with a sponsor. However, scientists at University of California, Los Angeles believe that an anti-inflammatory drug, commonly used to treat asthma in Japan, just may be the key to treating alcoholism.
This is the first study that has looked at the effects of the drug known as ibudilast to curb alcohol cravings. The research evaluated 17 men and seven women who drank seven or more alcoholic beverages a day, more than 21 days per month. For the first five days, participants were given dosages of the drug, and on the sixth day, they received an IV of alcohol (about four drink’s worth) to determine how the drug would be tolerated in the body with alcohol also in the system.
The subjects found that by the sixth day, their moods were dramatically improved and they had fewer cravings for alcohol.
"We found that ibudilast is safe and well-tolerated," Lara Ray, the study’s lead author and a UCLA professor of psychology, said in a statement. "This medication can be safely administered, including when people are drinking alcohol."
Researchers believe the conclusions are promising but more data is needed to provide conclusive results.