Common heart drug may help treat alcohol use disorder

Credit: Michal Jarmoluk/ Pixabay.

In a study from the National Institutes of Health, scientists found a medication for heart problems and high blood pressure may also be effective for treating alcohol use disorder.

The findings suggest that the medication, spironolactone, may play a role in reducing alcohol drinking.

Currently, there are three medications approved for alcohol use disorder in the United States, and they are an effective and important aid in the treatment of people with this condition.

Given the diverse biological processes that contribute to alcohol use disorder, new medications are needed to provide a broader spectrum of treatment options.

Scientists are working to develop a larger menu of pharmaceutical treatments that could be tailored to individual needs.

Previous research has found that mineralocorticoid receptors, which are located throughout the brain and other organs and help regulate fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, might play a role in alcohol use and craving.

Preclinical research suggests that higher mineralocorticoid receptor signalling contributes to increased alcohol consumption.

The current study sought to expand this line of research by testing spironolactone, a medication with multiple actions, including blocking mineralocorticoid receptors.

Spironolactone is used in clinical practice as a diuretic and to treat conditions like heart problems and high blood pressure.

In the study, researchers found that increasing doses of spironolactone decreased alcohol consumption in male and female animals, without causing movement or coordination problems, and without affecting their food or water intake.

The team also found a strong link between spironolactone treatment and a reduction in self-reported alcohol consumption.

Of note, the largest effects were observed among those who reported hazardous/heavy episodic alcohol consumption before starting spironolactone treatment.

Taken together, the present study argues for conducting randomized, controlled studies of spironolactone in people with alcohol use disorder to further assess its safety and potential efficacy in this population, as well as additional work to understand how spironolactone may reduce alcohol drinking.

If you care about alcohol, please read studies that people over 40 need to prevent dangerous alcohol/drug interactions, and how to prevent alcohol poisoning.

For more information about alcohol, please see recent studies about moderate alcohol drinking linked to high blood pressure, and results showing new pathway to treat alcohol-associated liver disease.

The study was conducted by Lorenzo Leggio et al and published in Molecular Psychiatry.

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