Researchers understand that the addictiveness of alcohol has to do with pleasure centers in the brain, and that alcohol consumption causes the release of dopamine, a neurochemical associated with several pleasurable behaviors. Current treatments that focus on dopamine have unwanted side effects- but fortunately, new research may have uncovered a new treatment option!

Medications currently available for the treatment of alcohol dependency can cause depression and can also be addictive. Obviously, replacing one addictive behavior with another isn’t ideal; it’s just choosing the lesser of two evils. So researchers have been looking for alternatives- and laboratory studies have been promising!

By working with laboratory rats, researchers have determined that certain compounds (called beta-carboline compounds) can reduce alcohol addiction and anxiety- and side effects are greatly reduced! These early studies seem to show that these compounds are less addictive than current treatments, which is exciting news. It’s estimated that alcohol abuse costs the U.S. economy almost $220 billion a year, so a ‘silver bullet’ in the quest for an efficient treatment is definitely needed. Read more about this research here.

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