Study Explores Potential of Modafinil for Treatment of Alcohol Dependence

As humans, our ability to fight addiction is tied to our ability to control impulses. When this control is in place, we also control the consumption of those substances that generate rewards, including alcohol, food and drugs.

This inability to control the impulse was the target for the development of medications such as naltrexone and disulfiram to treat alcoholism. Alcohol consumption is reduced by curbing the cravings associated with drinking. These medications also create reactions to alcohol that are considered less than pleasant and therefore reduce the desire to drink.

According to a Science Daily release, the same theory may be applied to control the use of drugs. Introducing self-control elements into the treatment of abuse is not a new concept, but combining this approach with medication is a new concept that could lead to positive results.

A study conducted by a team at the University of Amsterdam suggests that the use of modafinil could be applied for those with an addiction to drugs. The medication was originally developed as a treatment to increase wakefulness for those with sleep disorders, yet it has also been proven to improve cognition.

Trials done on otherwise healthy individuals with schizophrenia and ADHD produced positive effects. Outcomes showed a reduction in impulsivity, especially among those with an addiction. This success led to the testing of modafinil on alcohol dependence.

The effects of modafinil mimic amphetamines, suggesting that the impulsive individual should have greater control when using the medication. It also improved response inhibition for alcohol dependent individuals who initially demonstrated poor response inhibition. Those who initially performed better experience the opposite result.

The key result of this research was the positive effect modafinil had on patients experiencing initial impulsivity levels, which suggests the potential for use in treatment in certain alcoholics.