New Medication for Alcoholism Might Already Exist

Researchers have suggested that an inexpensive medicine for blood pressure and angina might be an effective medication for alcoholism.


The drug, pindolol, has proven effective in preclinical trials with rats. The results may or may not apply to humans. It’s clearly too early to break out the Champagne. Many promising leads in treating alcoholism have failed to materialize.

Pindolol is already approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat blood pressure and angina. That approval should speed its approval for use in human clinical trials. Some doctors might also choose to use it ‘off-label’ as a medication for alcoholism before that.

Approved Medications

Three drugs (acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone) are already being used with some success.

medication for alcoholismAcamprosate (marketed as Campral) reduces the discomforts and unpleasant reactions often experienced by alcoholics after they stop drinking. These typically include anxiety, sweating and sleep problems.

Disulfiram (marketed as Antabuse and Antabus) causes a sever negative reaction if alcohol is consumed. This can help motivated people quit drinking. Not taking disulfiram enables a person to drink alcohol without unusual effects.

Naltrexone (marketed as Revia, Depade and Vivitrol) tends to reduce the craving for alcohol experienced when alcoholics abstain from drinking.

The Sinclair Method

The Sinclair Method uses naltrexone as a medication for alcoholism treatment. It enables most alcoholics to drink in moderation. The method uses naltrexone. This pleasure blocker prevents the drinker from enjoying a high. That reduces the craving for alcohol.

The Sinclair Method treatment lasts for three to 15 months. After that, the patient needs to take naltrexone before drinking. This prevents positive conditioning. Otherwise, the pleasure extinction will reverse itself.

More about Pindolol.

All drugs have interactions and side effects. Pindolol should not be used with  arbutamine or thioridazine. Doing so might cause serious interactions.

Possible side effects might include dizziness, drowsiness, or weakness as your body adjusts to the drug. Pindololor might reduce circulation, causing cold hands and feet. If this occurs, doctors recommend not smoking tobacco and dressing warmly.

Pindolol is marketed in the U.S. as Visken and in Canada as Alti-Pindolol.

Always discuss any concerns with your doctor or pharmacist.

The source of the pindolol research reported here is Patkar, O., et al. The antihypertensive drug pindolol attenuates long-term but not short-term binge-like ethanol consumption in mice, Addict Bio, 2016. DOI: 10.1111/adb.12359

Note: Neither this website nor your host receives compensation for describing any treatment or medication for alcoholism.