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Chemical aversion therapy effective in relieving alcohol cravings, finds study
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Chemical aversion therapy effective in relieving alcohol cravings, finds study

Indulgence in alcohol has been a common problem among Americans for years. This is evident from the study titled “Remarkable Increases in Alcohol Use Disorders” that shows roughly one out of every eight Americans battling alcohol use disorder (AUD). The study published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in September 2017 assessed around 30 million Americans currently struggling with their drinking habits.

With experiments underway to find an effective solution to alcohol abuse problems, a group of researchers found an innovative way to curtail the ongoing alcohol abuse. The study, titled “The Neurobiological Mechanism of Chemical Aversion (Emetic) Therapy for Alcohol Use Disorder: An fMRI Study,” was published online in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience in September 2017. Using magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers established how chemical aversion therapy could be beneficial in influencing brain activity linked to craving for alcohol.

Looking ways for craving reduction

Commenting on the intent behind investigating the craving mechanism, study co-author Ralph Elkins said, “Among organizations that treat alcohol abuse, there is growing awareness of the importance of craving. Craving was recently added as one of the defining criteria for diagnosing alcohol use disorder in the DSM-5, a health care providers’ authoritative manual for diagnosing mental conditions.”

The researchers conducted the study on 13 patients seeking in-house treatment at Schick Shadel Hospital. Prior to their treatment, the respondents had informed about their dependence on alcohol for the past 18 years. After receiving treatment for a year, nine of the 13 participants were successfully treated for their AUD as they were completely against the idea of drinking alcohol. The treatment involved total five sessions.

As part of the treatment, each respondent was made to undergo functional MRI prior to treatment and after the fourth treatment session at Schick Shadel. The participants were also required to respond to survey questions about the nature and extent of their cravings before and after the treatment process. During the scans, the researchers asked every patient to imagine two differing circumstances, one with a bottle of their favorite wine and another in their favorite non-alcohol setting. The researchers replaced those signals every 30 seconds, thus resulting in a complex activity image to represent craving for alcohol.

Activating aversion mechanism to address dependence

Elaborating on the nature of observations, co-author Todd Richards explained, “The brain does not lie. The activation pattern tells whether someone is craving, and our scans confirmed what the patients were reporting about less feelings of craving. Changes between the pre- and post-treatment scans show significant reductions in craving-related brain activity in the occipital cortex, a region of the brain previously associated with alcohol craving.”

The findings indicate the efficiency of chemical-aversion treatment in treating AUD, though a much detailed study is warranted to justify the efficacy of the procedure. The observations show how reducing cravings using chemical aversion therapy alters patients’ drinking patterns. These results also pave the way for further research into using this procedure to help patients seek relief from addiction to prescription opioids and other illicit substances.

Recovery is a matter of choice

Those who choose to reclaim their lives and recuperate from their deadly addictive habits find it easier to share their problems with their loved ones and seek professional advice. Drinking is a problem that needs to be taken seriously as opposed to labeling it as a moral failure. Unfortunately, the fear of being discriminated against or pushed into social isolation prevents many people afflicted with AUD, especially women, from accepting that they have a problem.

Sovereign Health of Arizona takes a holistic view toward addiction treatment and combines traditional therapies to help patients treat dependence on alcohol and maintain lifelong sobriety. Our women-only Chandler rehab is one of the best alcohol rehabs for women in Arizona. For more information on one of the most trusted alcohol rehab facilities for women in Phoenix, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online.

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