UK ibogaine atticle BBC

HSLotsof at HSLotsof at
Wed Jan 19 09:14:29 EST 2005
1960s drug 'alcoholism cure hope' 
A hallucinogenic drug popular in the 1960s could help scientists find a 
medical treatment for alcoholism, US researchers believe. 

A University of California team said ibogaine blocked alcohol cravings in 
rats by boosting a brain protein. 

It was already thought it could combat addiction, but scientists have been 
wary as the drug is also toxic. 

It is hoped a treatment which works in the same way as ibogaine but without 
the side effects could be developed. 
It causes hallucinations as well a feeling of lightness 
Effects strongest after two hours 
Users can experience a deep dreamy trance-like state for long periods 
Used as a recreational drug 
Also taken by heroin and cocaine addicts to beat cravings 

In the UK, about 2.9 million adults - 7% of the population - are alcohol 

Alcohol misuse is linked to 22,000 deaths a year and costs the economy £20bn 
a year in lost production and treatment. 

People who misuse alcohol tend to be treated through counselling, although 
there are a few drugs available which are sometimes used in conjunction with 
rehabilitation programmes. 

Reduced drinking 

The research team believes the findings, published in the Journal of 
Neuroscience, could lead to a change in approach to treating alcohol addiction. 

Report co-author Patricia Janak said they found the drug worked by increasing 
the level of the GDNF protein in the brain. 

Previously, scientists were aware the drug may reduce dependency but did not 
fully understand how it worked. 

She said the team induced the rats to consume alcohol and found once they 
were injected with ibogaine their GDNF levels increased and they reduced their 

    There is a link to craving in the brain and if we can influence that it 
is feasible to develop a drug treatment 
Dr Bruce Ritson 

She said the effect may stop people "falling off the wagon" as when rats were 
denied alcohol for two weeks those given ibogaine had a much lower craving 
when offered alcohol. 

"The discovery that ibogaine reduced binge drinking after a period of 
abstinence was an exiting finding for us because this is the type of behaviour in 
alcoholics for which very few effective drugs exist." 

While the drug remains unlicensed in the UK and much of the rest of the 
world, it is used to treat addiction in several private clinics in the Caribbean 
and Mexico. 

But Alcohol Concern said the findings should be treated with caution. 

'Shed light' 

A spokeswoman said: "This type of study could prove useful in the long term 
to shed light on the relationship between the brain and alcohol intake. 

"However, very little can be drawn from a single animal-based study at this 

A further note of caution was added by Martin Plant, professor of addiction 
studies at the University of the West of England, who said: "People become 
addicted to alcohol for many different reason. The idea that taking tablets cures 
the problem is naive." 

Dr Bruce Ritson, of the Medical Council on Alcohol, said: "Addiction is a 
complex area and I would not believe it is the whole answer." 

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/01/19 01:22:53 GMT


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