Pharmaceutical treatment of alcoholism ineffective

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An in-depth study by the French national institute of health has revealed that of the five drugs commonly prescribed for the treatment of alcohol misuse, none have demonstrated clear effectiveness. The article, published in the journal Addiction, investigated the drugs baclofen, naltrexone, acamprosate, topimarate, and nalmefene.

That’s not to say that they are entirely useless, because for some people they do have an effect, but it is not reliable, and in some cases there are dangerous side effects. Baclofen particularly has been associated with increased deaths in those taking the drug, leading the French medicine safety agency to express their concerns.

But this should come as no surprise; alcohol problems are not caused by an imbalance in brain chemistry which can be rectified by taking a pill. Alcoholism is a complex psychological and behavioural problem, not a simple medical one. However, pharmaceutical companies like to promote the idea that all humanity’s ills can be cured with a tablet. And that model produces the most profits for their shareholders. Psychological treatments (talking therapies) are not as profitable for the industry.

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