The anesthetic ketamine may help in the treatment of alcohol dependence. It causes, according to a new study that people with a problematic drinking behavior, reminders, a bad save, which arouse your Desire for alcohol. The reports, scientists from Britain and the Netherlands in the journal “Nature Communications”.
After appropriate treatment consumed subjects with a problematic drinking behavior for several months, only half of their usual amounts of Alcohol.
The new therapy approach based on the assumption that alcohol dependence is learned to a significant extent. Based on past experience, the brain links about beer so strong with positive memories that the sight or the smell enough, to an urgent Desire to evoke. “Basically, the drug hijacks the reward center in the brain, so that at the end of certain stimuli with the drug to be associated,” explains Ravi from The University College London.
Have solidified the associations between the beverage and the reward once, it’s hard to replace them with newer, healthier. However, this can be in the case of alcohol dependence is essential in order to avoid a relapse, says The.
Engage in the memory
In his experiments, the Team tried to have The, this so-called searches for the memory to weaken. Memories are retrieved, they are for a brief Moment, unstable, before the brain updated you – may – re-stores. In this way, we can learn to do this, it makes memories, but also a bit manipulated. Experts speak of Rekonsolidierung. This unstable Moment made use of by the researchers in a targeted manner.
For this, they were looking for 90 participants with a critical drinking, but not alcohol dependence was diagnosed. All of the participants preferred to drink beer, on average, around 17 litres per week. In order to exceed the maximum recommended amounts many times over.
On the first day of the Experiment, the participants were given a small glass of beer with the promise to be it a small task to drink. Then the researchers showed the participants pictures of different drinks and they asked, how big is your Craving for the pictured product. Then the participants were allowed to drink the beer, they received their due reward.
On the second day, the researchers structure changed a part of the test. At first, everything like on the first day of delivery, before the Drinking, but the researchers took away the participants with the promised beer again. This process – the unexpected Escape of an expected reward – is particularly well suited to destabilize the reward of memories.
Typically tried the brain then, to stabilize the learned link again and save it. In this process, the researchers intervened in addition to medication: they put one third of the trial participants an Infusion of ketamine, which blocks a Receptor in the nerve cells, which plays an important role in the storage of memories.
The hope of the researchers: to weaken The learned Association of beer and reward in the brain. To check the effects, got a second third of the participants instead of ketamine only a Placebo. A third part got ketamine, you only O however, instead of beer, juice, presented and removed.
Destabilizing That Is Interested In Beer Demand
In fact, the alcohol decreased demand in the beer-ketamine group. Ten days later, the subjects reported to have fewer and fewer days of drinking, an effect the researchers also nine months later were able to determine. In the cut have halved the consumption of alcohol. The participants in the placebo group and the “O-juice-ketamine-group” drank less. The effect, however, was not so pronounced.
Blood tests also showed that the individually available amount of ketamine in the blood was associated with the impact on the drinking behaviour: the higher the ketamine was the concentration during the Rekonsilidierungsphase, the greater the amount of drink -, however, was reduced only in the beer group. This is further evidence that the disruption of the Rekonsolidierung is the cause for the decline in the amount they drink, according to the researchers.
“The results of the study are impressive, also because it is high-risk consumption, but without the therapy of desire”, a rating of Addiction professionals Oliver Pogarell from the hospital of the University of Munich, the study of his colleagues. The approach goes further than the previous Attempts to reduce with the drugs to the “craving” for alcohol dependence. It remains still open whether the results are to people with the actual dependency transferred.
Matt Field from the University of Sheffield, stressed that the existing data left many questions unanswered. Further investigation with larger participant numbers are needed before one could judge the success of the method. In addition, ketamine can have side effects: It can lead to hallucinations, the drug is also called drug abuse.