Common high blood pressure drug may fight alcohol use disorders

A recent study from the Queensland University of Technology found that a drug used to treat high blood pressure may alleviate anxiety induced by long-term heavy alcohol use.

It can also halt the damage such drinking can cause to the brain’s ability to grow new cells.

The drug is inexpensive and already available in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. It’s a beta-blocker called pindolol prescribed for high blood pressure, angina and heart arrhythmias.

The findings add further evidence that the drug could be beneficial in treating alcohol use disorders.

The study is published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience. The lead author is QUT neuroscientist Professor Selena Bartlett.

The team has been studying it for a number of years and has already shown in animal models that it reduces alcohol intake when there is long-term consumption.

In this study, they examined the drug’s effect on other alcohol-associated issues—anxiety and neurogenesis.

Long-term and heavy drinking can cause anxiety disorders, and people’s anxiety can worsen when alcohol is withdrawn, and alcohol abuse can also reduce neurogenesis, which is the process by which new neurons (cells) are formed in the brain.

The team found that pindolol reduced alcohol-associated anxiety-like behavior in mice and also alleviated the damaging effects of alcohol consumption on newly formed and immature brain cells.

They say repurposing drugs like pindolol was a way to fast-track new treatments to manage alcohol dependence, binge-drinking, and addiction, which are significant and complex problems both in Australia and globally.

The costs to society of alcohol-related problems in Australia in 2010 was estimated at more than $14 billion, including costs to the health system and lost productivity.

Copyright © 2020 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.