New research confirms what many scientists had long guessed: long-term alcoholism can actually alter the genes in our brains.
While that sounds a little frightening at first, the discovery may actually lead to incredible new treatments for alcoholism. If medication can target those altered genes, the patient may be able to quit drinking much much more easily.
How Alcoholism Affects Gene Behavior
Scientists had already identified several genes that cause alcoholism or undergo changes due to heavy drinking. The new findings from the University of Sydney show that those altered genes tend to clump together in the brain.
These specific genes also help keep an alcoholic addicted. Now that medical researchers know to look for them and where to find them, they can begin testing medications that target the genes and help correct alcoholic behavior.
Medications that Treat Alcoholism Genes
Moving forward, researchers can develop new medicines to treat alcoholism genes. We may see new treatments very soon, however. Some drugs that already exist — including a cholesterol medicine and a diabetes drug — have properties that scientists believe can also be used to treat alcoholism.
Researchers will be working with the FDA to streamline approval for these medications as soon as possible.
About half of all alcoholics have family genetic issues that contribute to their disease. Many patients would not necessarily benefit from the medications being discussed, but others may find an incredible new tool to help manage symptoms and defeat the addiction. In an ideal case, a medicine might be able to essentially “turn off” the cravings.
Treatment of alcoholism will always require multiple kinds of effort. While new medications provide additional hope for the future, we already have a variety of personalized treatments to assist in recovery. Read about our alcohol and drug treatment center and discover how we can help you or a loved one battle addiction.