Can Scientists Reverse Alcohol Dependency With An Injection?

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By Cooking Panda

Ever wonder what causes you to want more alcohol once you’ve started drinking? What makes your brain tell you “just one more…”?

If so, you’re not alone. Scientists have been looking into answering this very question, and they believe they may have found an answer. The Journal of Neuroscience has published a new study that shows they could turn off this little voice that creates alcohol dependency. At least, it worked on lab rats.

“We can completely reverse alcohol dependence by targeting a network of neurons,” said Professor Olivier George in the press release.

As it turns out, the neurons in the brain that control this type of reaction make up 5 percent of the central amygdala in both human and rat brains, meaning the effect that alcohol has on rats is similar to the effect it has on humans.

According to Munchies, scientists developed an injection based on the above information and used it on a sample of alcohol dependent rats to find that the rats stopped “compulsively” drinking.

“It’s like they forgot they were dependent,” said George.

How convenient! Even more interesting was the fact that the rats continued to drink sugar water, meaning the injection only targeted alcohol-activated neurons. To top it off, the rats also appeared to be protected from the negative physical symptoms of withdrawal, like shaking. It became as if the brain had never made the connection between alcohol and reward.

It may be a leap to think that this will be beneficial and useful for humans, but it’s possible. One of the researchers of the study, TSRI Research Associate Giordano de Guglielmo, says “It is very challenging to target such a small population of neurons in the brain, but this study helps to increase our knowledge of a part of the brain that is still a mystery.”

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Naturally, I’m very curious as to how this could work for humans. Is there likely to be a popular pre-party injection in the future? What kind of effect will drinking have if the perceived reward doesn’t exist in our brains? What kind of long-term effect would an injection have on us if we used it extensively?

It seems only time will tell! 

Sources: Munchies, TSRI Press Release, Journal of Neuroscience / Photo credit: Jerome Velez/Instagram

Tags: alcohol, Alcohol Dependency, drinking
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