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Quit-Smoking Drug May Also Curb Drinking

Study Finds Chantix Makes Drinking Alcohol Less Enjoyable
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Drinking After Chantix Makes Alcohol Less Enjoyable continued...

The order of the sessions was scrambled so people wouldn’t know which pill they were taking or how much they were drinking.

Before each session, researchers asked people questions about how they were feeling. They also measured their heart rate and blood pressure. People were also asked to put on special goggles that tracked their eye movements as they tried to follow a moving light.

Chantix increased feelings of nausea and generally feeling unwell after drinking, compared to the placebo.

“It did actually increase the negative effects of alcohol, which would counteract the pleasurable effects,” Childs says.

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.

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