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Quit-Smoking Drug May Also Curb Drinking

Study Finds Chantix Makes Drinking Alcohol Less Enjoyable

Drinking After Chantix Makes Alcohol Less Enjoyable continued...

The reason the drug may do that, Childs says, is that alcohol and nicotine may both exert their influence through the same receptor on brain cells.

Chantix blocks that receptor, which appears to blunt some of the physical effects of alcohol.

As expected, as people in the study drank, their performance declined on the eye tracking tests.

But after taking Chantix, people in the study were able to perform some of the tasks just as well as they could before they’d started drinking, suggesting that Chantix was blocking some of the alcohol’s influence.

 

The study is published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Tackling Nicotine and Alcohol Cravings

If larger studies support these results, researchers say the drug could be especially helpful for people who find they can’t pick up a drink without also wanting a cigarette.

“There’s a lot of overlap in the brain with regards to reinforcement for nicotine and alcohol,” McKee says.

Researchers used to think that drinkers were more likely to smoke because they were in a social setting or because it was a familiar habit to do one with the other.

But recent research has uncovered a biological reason why these addictions seem to go hand in hand.

Alcohol works on the same chemical receptors in the brain as nicotine, and it may enhance the pleasurable effects of smoking.

Chantix, experts say, could work on both problems at the same time.

But to be sure, the drug is not without risks.

Last year, the FDA repeated a warning to doctors to closely watch patients taking Chantix for any behavioral changes, including depressed mood, hostility, agitation, and suicidal thoughts. People who experience behavioral changes should stop taking the drug, the agency says.

Another FDA study found that Chantix may also slightly increase certain heart disease and stroke risks  in people who already have heart disease. But because the drug doubles the chances that people who take it will quit smoking for as long as a year, and smoking itself increases the likelihood of events like heart attacks and strokes, the FDA concluded that the benefits of taking it still outweigh the additional risks.

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