Health officials in the United Kingdom have released a new drug intended to help problem drinkers cut back on their alcohol consumption. The pill, named nalfemene, is reported to have cut back alcohol consumption by 61% in clinical trials among adults who are alcohol dependent, but do not show signs of withdrawal and are not thought to need immediate detoxification. The drug has been licensed and released for doctors to prescribe to patients and works by manipulating the reward mechanisms in the brain to block cravings and decrease the level of desire for alcohol. Adults who participated in the clinical studies decreased the amount of alcohol consumed from an average of 12.75 units per day to five units per day. In addition, heavy drinking days were reduced from 23 per month to nine per month.
The prescription of a drug to relieve symptoms of alcoholism is quite controversial, as individuals who show signs of substance abuse could become addicted to other drugs if not monitored closely. The side effects of nalfemene are unknown to the public but the drug is meant to be taken in conjunction with counseling to achieve the best results. It’s possible that the health industry is turning to drugs to meet the exploding demand for rehabilitation services but the potential for misuse seems very high as many consumers may neglect to attend counseling and could end of misusing the pills prescribed by their doctor.
The United Kingdom is not the only country to release the drug. Nalfemene, also known as selincro, has been approved by health officials in Norway, Finland, Poland and some other Baltic countries. Only time will tell what type of side effects or other issues are caused by the drug, if any at all. The most important thing is that those who suffer from alcohol dependency seek some kind of treatment.
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