Existing heart medication may help treat alcohol use disorder

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Researchers from the National Institutes of Health studied a medication with existing FDA approval to see if it would work for an alternative purpose. Spironolactone is prescribed to treat heart conditions. Because the medication is a mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist, the researchers were interested to see if it would yield benefits in treating alcohol use disorder.

By the end of the study, the group learned that the drug shows some promise for decreasing alcohol consumption.

Sometimes researchers find new uses for existing medications, which is helpful since they start from the point of already knowing potential side effects. A study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates the heart medication spironolactone may be effective for patients with alcohol use disorder. While more research is necessary on using spironolactone for this purpose, the researchers conducted studies with rats, mice, and humans and saw that the medication might have benefits. The findings were published in Molecular PsychiatryTrusted Source. Alcohol use disorder quick facts According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)Trusted Source, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), alcohol use disorder “is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” In the United States, 17 million adults ages 18 years or older have alcohol use disorder, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Additionally, the AHRQ says men are more likely to develop the disorder than women. They predict that 17% of men and 8% of women will develop alcohol use disorder at some point. Some people are at a higher risk for developing alcohol use disorder, including people who began drinking before they turned 15, those who binge drink, and those with a family history of alcohol misuse or mental health issues. Some of the features of the disorder include: Being unable to stop or cut down on drinking Getting into situations that may have harmful effects because of drinkingHaving withdrawal symptoms after the alcohol wears off Binge drinkingThere are a number of treatments for people with alcohol use disorder, including therapy and medications. Three FDA-approved medications for alcohol use disorder are naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate.

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