Drink Up: Red Wine Might Curb Meth Addiction

By Shawn Dwyer 11/26/13

New study shows that the naturally occurring compound resveratrol may block the effects of methamphetamine.

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Reduces dopamine levels and inhibitions
Photo via Shutterstock

Chalk up another positive benefit of resveratrol: the natural compound found in colored vegetables and grapes might be used to combat powerful cravings for methamphetamine.

Already hailed for its potential to prevent cancer, extend life, and even prevent skin aging, resveratrol may now help stop cravings for highly addictive drugs. A study conducted by Dennis Miller, associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences, and other researchers at the University of Missouri, found that resveratrol may help regulate dopamine levels in the brain. "Dopamine is critical to the development of methamphetamine addiction - the transition from using a drug because one likes or enjoys it to using the drug because one craves or compulsively uses it," Miller said. When someone uses methamphetamine, their dopamine levels go through the roof and continued use degenerates dopamine neurons to the point of causing neurological and even behavioral impairments that actually mimic the same behaviors in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Miller and his fellow researchers followed already established methods for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s research by giving human-level amounts of resveratrol to rats for seven days. Afterwards, they gave the rats methamphetamine and found that the resveratrol greatly reduced the amount of dopamine in their brains. "Resveratrol has been shown to regulate these dopamine neurons and to be protective in Parkinson's disease, a disorder where dopamine neurons degenerate; therefore, we sought to determine if resveratrol could affect methamphetamine-induced changes in the brain," Miller said.

The findings were reported last month in the journal Neuroscience Letters.

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.