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Monday, May 21, 2012

Drugs Help Tailor Alcoholism Treatment

If alcoholism is a disease, is there hope of finding the cure in a pill?

Yes and no. Having mapped the physical changes the brain undergoes with years of habitual drinking, researchers in recent years have discovered a handful of promising — and some say underused — drugs that, combined with therapy, help alcoholics break the cycle of addiction.

To those for whom such remedies work, they certainly can feel like a cure.

“I felt like I had found something that finally helped me through the cravings,” said Patty Hendricks, 49, who used one such drug, naltrexone, to help control her drinking habit after four failed rehab attempts. “I don’t think I could have gotten sober without it.”

The problem is that alcoholics, like cancer patients, are not a homogeneous group. People drink compulsively for any number of reasons, from genetics to anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder. The pill that helped Ms. Hendricks get sober might do nothing for, say, a veteran who drinks to ward off nightmares. > > > > Read More