Quit-Smoking Drug Could Curb Drinking Too

By McCarton Ackerman 02/16/12

In a promising initial study, participants find that Chantix takes the buzz out of booze.

Two birds with one stone? Photo via

A new study shows that a drug designed to help people quit smoking may also be beneficial for problem drinkers. The participants in the study, led by Emma Childs, a research associate at the University of Chicago, received either a two-milligram dose of the quit-smoking drug Chantix or an inactive placebo—followed three hours later by a beverage containing either a placebo, or a low or high dose of alcohol. Combining the alcohol with Chantrix was found to increase the unpleasant effects of booze, while reducing the rewarding aspects of drinking. "Chantix might reduce alcohol consumption by reducing overall enjoyment of the alcohol drinking experience," says Childs. "Chantix increased the unpleasant effects of alcohol, for example feeling drowsy and irritable; participants also reported that they didn't like the alcohol effects as much." However, the researchers acknowledge that they don't fully understand how the drug helps curb drinking and that the study's small size—just 15 participants—is a limitation. Chantix has its fair share of side effects, too; In July 2009, the US Food and Drug Administration mandated that the drug carry a "black box" warning about potential risks of depression and suicidal thoughts.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.