Heavy drinkers can reduce how much alcohol they consume with the help of an illegal party drug called ketamine, according to a new study.
The anaesthetic has been found to alter memories that are linked to the impulse to drink. The study's findings were originally published in the journal Nature Communications.
"Heavy drinkers experienced a long-term improvement after a very quick and simple experimental treatment," study co-author Ravi Das of University College London, told a news portal. Researchers started to see positive results after nine months.
The study included 90 participants that were considered to be heavy drinkers. None of the participants in the group had ever received treatment. For most, beer was the popular choice of beverage. They consumed approximately 74 units of alcohol a week, which is more than the recommended limit.
Participants were given a glass of beer. However, they had to complete a task before consuming it. The group was shown a series of beer pictures on the first day of the study. They were also asked to rate how much they would enjoy the beer when they got to consume it.The goal was to help activate the “reward memories”. On day two, there was no beer even the group was geared up for a drink.Instead, one part of the group was injected with ketamine, which the rest were given a placebo.
The ketamine seemed to have a major effect when it came to drink-related memories. It weakened the impulse to drink. “If the findings were replicated, it could be very important. At its broadest, it could imply that habits of thinking could be provoked and then usefully disrupted by a single ketamine infusion," Rupert McShane, of Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists, told a news portal.
Finding ways to cut down on alcohol is crucial for many reasons. One study, published in the journal European Journal of Neurology, found some alcoholic beverages could trigger migraines frequently. "Alcohol-triggered migraine occurs rapidly after intake of alcoholic beverages, suggesting a different mechanism than a normal hangover," study senior author Dr Gisela Terwindt, of the Leiden University Medical Center, in the Netherlands, told a news portal
Another study found drinking more than seven alcoholic drinks a week could increase your risk of premature death. "What this is saying is, if you're really concerned about your longevity, don't have more than a drink a day," David Jernigan, a Johns Hopkins University alcohol researcher, told a news portal.
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