September 15, 2017 14:13 GMT by dailymail.co.uk

Adelaide University study how to reduce alcohol cravings

Adelaide University study how to reduce alcohol cravings

In trials on mice, University of Adelaide researchers found that an existing drug that targets receptors in the brain's immune system can switch off the urge for a midweek tipple.

If you crave a hearty glass of wine, pint of cold beer or a large gin and tonic during the week, you're definitely not alone.

But this impulse for alcohol, often fueled by a stressful day at work, could be curbed in the future, scientists believe.

In trials on mice, they found that an existing drug that targets receptors in the brain's immune system can switch off the urge for a midweek tipple.

The study, by University of Adelaide researchers, offers hope of opening up avenues for such a way for humans to cut back on alcohol.

An existing drug that targets receptors in the brain's immune system can switch off the urge for a midweek tipple, scientists have found

An existing drug that targets receptors in the brain's immune system can switch off the urge for a midweek tipple, scientists have found

Midweek drinks are known to often tip many people over their recommended weekly intake, compromising their health.

This then leaves them at an increased risk of various forms of cancer, high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver and even depression,  

How was the study carried out? 

The researchers tested a drug called Naltrexone, which is already given to alcoholics to curb their dependence, on the mice.

It works by binding to TLR4, a brain receptor previously linked to binge drinking. This then blocks it and stops the sensation of pleasure after drinking.

They found that blocking these immune receptors helped decrease the motivation of non-dependent mice to drink alcohol in the evening. 

Lead scientist Jon Jacobsen, who is studying for his PhD, said: 'Alcohol is the world's most commonly consumed drug.

RECOVERY WHILE DRINKING CAREFULLY

Alcoholics have long suffered a critical stumbling block on their road to recovery - total and utter abstinence.

But that could be a thing of the past thanks to an unlikely, little-known treatment which offers the seemingly-impossible: recovery while drinking in moderation.

Called the Sinclair Method, it was devised in the 1970s and uses opioid-controlling drugs combined with self-discipline and, paradoxically, alcohol, to give addicts renewed control.

And, impressively, it boasts a success rate of nearly 80 per cent. So could it be the answer to Booze Britain's obsession with drinking?

'There is a greater need than ever to understand the biological mechanisms that drive our need to drink alcohol.'

He said the body's internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, affects the urge to partake in drug-related behaviour.

The peak time for this tends to strike during the evening, when the brain receives the highest 'reward' and gives off the most endorphins from taking drugs. 

The results, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, is one of the first to show a link between the brain's immune system and alcohol consumption at night.

Professor Mark Hutchinson, co-author of the study, said the results add to an emerging body of evidence that show the brain's immune system to be responsible.

What is the drug? 

Naltrexone has been approved as a treatment to overcome alcohol and opiod drug dependencies by US regulators, the FDA, for 22 years.

NICE, the NHS' drug rationing watchdog, recommends the drug be given alongside conventional rehabilitation programmes.

Previous studies have shown it to work for more than just reducing cravings for the opiods and alcohol it is designed for.

Scientists have long said it can help to relieve multiple sclerosis sufferers of their symptoms and provides relief against Crohn's disease. 

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