Anti-Nicotine Drug May Also Dull Desire to Drink

Finding suggests drinking and smoking activate same receptors in brain

WEDNESDAY, May 14, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The anti-nicotine drug mecamylamine reduces the euphoric effects of alcohol in humans and decreases their desire to drink.

That effect was found by researchers at the University of Chicago, who report their finding in the May issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Mecamylamine blocks the effects of nicotine in the brain, diminishing the pleasurable effects of smoking. It's been suspected that common mechanisms in the brain may be involved in the good feelings produced by both alcohol and tobacco.

Prior research suggests mecamylamine does block the rewarding effects of alcohol in laboratory animals. This new study found the drug does the same in humans.

The study included 14 male and 13 female non-smoking social drinkers who took part in six laboratory sessions. At the start of each session, the volunteers received either a placebo or one of two doses of mecamylamine (7.5 milligrams or 15 milligrams).

That was followed two hours later by either an alcohol or placebo beverage. Measurements were then taken of the volunteers' stimulation and euphoria levels, along with heart rate, blood pressure and other physical markers.

"Our findings extend previous observations made in animals that alcohol produces its mood-altering effects, in part, through actions on the nicotinic receptor system," corresponding author Harriet de Wit, an associate professor of psychiatry, University of Chicago, says in a news release.

"These findings also fit nicely with observations that alcohol users are often also smokers, and smokers tend to drink more than non-smokers. This suggests that these associations may have a biological basis, that is, they reflect shared actions on some of the same receptor systems," de Wit says.

More information

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Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Published on May 14, 2003

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