PTSD And Alcohol Abuse: Researchers Study Effectiveness Of Lyrica
Researchers from the University of Maryland say they have taken a promising step in treating two conditions that are often related: alcohol addiction and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) The team is studying the effectiveness of pregablin, also known as Lyrica, a drug currently used to treat nerve pain.
The association between substance abuse and mental health conditions is well-established clinically, but until now, treatments developed to address both concurrently are rare.
The American Psychiatric Association defines PTSD as a mental health disorder that can occur in individuals who “have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other violent personal assault.”
According to the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, persons who experience PTSD are more likely than others to engage in problem drinking, and that people with drinking problems often have PTSD. Also, people with PTSD tend to have more drinking problems before AND after experiencing PTSD.
Indeed, as many as three-quarters of people who have survived “abusive or violent trauma” and up to one-third of those who have survived “traumatic accidents, illness, or disasters” report drinking problems.
The research team is led by Bankole Johnson, professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. They are conducting a five-year study of pregablin for the treatment of PTSD and alcohol abuse as they co-occur.
The medication is currently indicated to treat epilepsy, nerve pain, and anxiety. Previous research has suggested that it may help treat alcoholism, but this potential indication has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Johnson, as quoted by the Baltimore Sun:
“There is a lot of suffering among people with PTSD and people with alcoholism, and they are at extreme risk for harming themselves. So this could be particularly important for treatment.”
Johnson went on to say that pregablin has promise because it modulates chemical signals from nerve cells that control the desire to consume alcohol, as well as feelings of anxiety. It may have effects similar to Valium, but is much less addictive.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology