When alcoholism or heavy drinking becomes a problem, the solution is usually to stop drinking altogether – a tough feat to accomplish on your own. Recent research shows that reducing alcohol consumption could be easy with the help of the anti-epilepsy drug, topiramate AKA Topamax.
The study included 138 heavy drinkers divided into two groups. One group took the drug for 12 weeks and the other group took an inactive placebo. Both groups participated in brief counseling to help them decrease their drinking.
After the 12-week period, the placebo group patients were five times more likely to have had a heavy drinking day compared to the patients in the Topamax group. Also, the Topamax group had twice as many patients who had no heavy drinking days during the last four weeks of the study.
Although there have been recent studies that associate anti-epilepsy drugs with alcohol recovery, this is the first that evaluates the drug as an option for patients who want to limit their drinking to safe levels, rather than stop drinking completely.
After further analysis, researchers discovered that only people with a specific genetic makeup found in 40% of European-Americans benefited from the treatment. As a result, it could be assumed that personalized treatments for heavy drinking may be on the horizon.
“Our hope is that the study will result in additional research focusing to help patients who have struggles with heavy drinking and the problems it causes, but who are unable or unwilling to abstain from alcohol altogether,” explains Dr. Henry Kranzler, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Studies of Addiction.
The results of the study not only supported the theory that the drug helps in decreasing alcohol consumption, but also point to what groups of people the drug could help. Hopefully future research will shine a light on what the use of Topamax could mean for alcoholics continuing to struggle with recovery.