Sunday, May 12, 2013

Oxytocin Shown to Block Alcohol Withdrawal

In a small, randomized, double-blind clinical trial, intranasal oxytocin blocked the effects of alcohol withdrawal on a population presenting to a hospital-based detoxification unit. Results from the study were published in the March edition of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research and are the first to confirm results obtained in other studies using non-human subjects.

In the study, participants (n=11) were given either lorazepam and oxytocin (n=7), or lorazepam and placebo (n=4), over three days of inpatient detox. They were then administered several standardized alcohol withdrawal measurements (CIWA, AWSC, ACVAS, POMS) and compared the two groups. Across the board, patients who were administered intranasal oxytocin scored significantly lower on withdrawal measures, while reporting significantly less craving and significantly better mood.
While the limitations of the study (small size) are clear, these findings are impressive and will lead to further research. In recent years, oxytocin has shown promise in the treatment of multiple disorders. Certainly, this research will add another voice to the chorus of oxytocin advocates.

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