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A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that a drug used to treat vomiting in cancer patients can help to control alcoholism.

Alcoholics don't need to drink, they just can't stop drinking once they start. This is probably because their brains have too much serotonin, a neurotransmitter that sends messages from one nerve cell to another, or they overreact to it. Serotonin helps you fall asleep at night, makes you feel full when you eat and calms you down when you are upset.

Ondansetron, sold under the trade name Zofran, is used to treat vomiting during chemotherapy because it blocks the effects of serotonin on the brain. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that ondansetron helps stop alcoholics from drinking. Other recent studies show that mecamylamine, a drug used to treat nicotine addiction, may also help treat alcoholism.

BA Johnson, JD Roache, MA Javors, CC DiClemente, CR Cloninger, TJ Prihoda, PS Bordnick, N AitDaoud, J Hensler. Ondansetron for reduction of drinking among biologically predisposed alcoholic patients - A randomized controlled trial. JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association, 2000, Vol 284, Iss 8, pp 963-971

Checked 8/9/05

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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