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HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Anti-Smoking Drug Could Help You Cut Back on Booze

The anti-smoking drug varenicline has a major side-effect: more moderate boozing.

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Smoking and drinking often go hand, in hand.
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By May Wilkerson

05/03/12

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The smoking-cessation drug vareniclinemarketed by Pfizer as "Chantix"—could help majorly curb drinking, according to a study of heavy-drinking smokers at the University of California, San Francisco. Study participants, who were seeking treatment for smoking (not drinking), were given either the drug or a placebo—and those who were given varenicline were found to have reduced their average number of drinks per week by 36% by the end of the study. A previous study at the University of Chicago on a smaller test-group also found Chantix decreased smokers' propensity to drink. Lead author of the UCSF study Dr. Jennifer Mitchell notes that taking the drug did not impact the frequency of participants' drinking, but it did significantly decrease the amount they drank once they started. A drug that effectively helps individuals cut back on alcohol consumption could be immensely helpful in reducing overall harm caused by alcohol abuse, says Mitchell: “If you currently drink seven drinks a night, and we can turn that into two or three, then you’re not only drinking at a level that’s going to harm you less, you’re less likely to harm others, as well. If we could lower the rates of drunk driving, spousal and child abuse and other secondary effects of alcoholism, that would be tremendous.” 

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