Smoking drug helps curb drinking: Study
Study participants who took the drug varenicline had reduced their average number of drinks per week by 36% compared to those who took the placebo. (Shutterstock)
While testing a new drug to help people quit smoking, U.S. researchers discovered an interesting side-effect — the drug also decreased alcohol consumption in heavy drinkers.
Study participants were seeking help to quit smoking, not drinking, the researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, said in their study, published this week in the journal Psychopharmacology.
Those taking part in the study were given either the drug varenicline or a placebo. By the end of the study, participants who took varenicline had reduced their average number of drinks per week by 36% compared to those who took the placebo.
A medication that reliably decreases alcohol consumption would be of immense value in reducing the harm caused by alcohol abuse, lead author Jennifer Mitchell said in a release about the study.
"People initiated drinking at the same rate, but they drank less once they started," Mitchell said. "If your usual pattern was to come home and have a few beers, you would still do that, but you might have one or two instead of four or five."
The researchers said candidates for this study were strictly monitored for mental health disorders and more research is needed to confirm the drug is safe and effective for people with psychiatric conditions, as well as alcohol abusers who are seeking treatment and who don't smoke.