Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Font Size

Drug to Treat Nausea Also May Help Alcoholics Stop Drinking

WebMD Health News

Aug. 22, 2000 -- The first time Francisco Gomez took a drink at age 15, it was like a "runaway train," he says. "From the beginning, I would drink until I blacked out. From that point on, I basically lived to drink. I joined the military and was stationed on a nuclear submarine that went on 90-day patrols. Of course, there was no drinking, but the minute we hit shore I went straight to a bar."

Alcohol had cost the 48-year-old Texas man three marriages, countless jobs, and the right to see his two children by the time he sought help for his addiction last year through the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. It was there that he learned he fit the classic profile of an early-onset alcoholic, and it was there that he got the help he needed to stop drinking.

Gomez was one of 321 alcoholics who took part in a study combining intensive behavioral therapy with the drug Zofran (ondansetron), now used to treat nausea caused by chemotherapy. The therapy, known as cognitive behavioral therapy, helps alcoholics to abstain by improving their ability to deal with situations that can cause them to seek out alcohol, the researchers say.

Researcher Bankole A. Johnson, MD, PhD, and colleagues found that Zofran, which targets the chemical messenger serotonin in the brain, appeared to help those patients who fit the profile for early-onset alcoholism. Their findings were reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"We have learned that one of the important features of early-onset alcoholism is that these people have an abnormality in their serotonin system," Johnson tells WebMD. "This does not mean that they don't have other abnormalities, but that the abnormality of serotonin is important."

Studies suggest that 25 to 30% of alcoholics fit the early-onset profile, which includes having family members who are alcoholic; binge or problem drinking beginning in the teens or early 20s; and the early development of social problems related to drinking. Most early-onset alcoholics also are born risk-takers, according to James Mulligan, MD, medical director of Pennsylvania's Caron Foundation. The Caron Foundation is one of the nation's oldest alcohol centers, treating some 6,000 patients each year.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

child ignored by parents
prescription pain pills
Woman experiencing withdrawal symptoms
Teen girl huddled outside house
Man with glass of scotch
overturned shot glass
assortment of medication
Depressed and hurting