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Yale University researchers are testing a new drug for the treatment of alcohol intoxication and alcoholism. The drug- Iomazenil- may block the central nervous system from the effects of alcohol consumption. The pill may be able to keep you sober no matter how much you drink. Scientists are hoping that it can be used to treat both alcohol intoxication and alcoholism.

The idea of a “sober pill” is not a new one. Scientists have been trying to come up with a “cure” for alcoholism for a very long time. Naloxone, disulfiram, and dihydromyricetin are just three of the drugs that have been tested or used in practice to treat alcoholics. Some drugs make you sick when you drink; others just reduce the effects of alcohol.

The problem with any sober pill is that it depends on patient compliance. Alcoholics who are being treated with the sober pill must make the decision to take the pill on a daily basis. It goes without saying that the number of alcoholics who actually take the pill as prescribed is very low. Some doctors have even used once-monthly injections of the drug Vivitrol to try to overcome the problem with patient compliance. Even with monthly injections, however, the success rate of sober drugs is very low. Patients can skip appointments or drink despite the negative consequences of the drug; simply increasing the amount they drink to overcome the effects of the medication.

Sober pills won’t keep you sober in the long term because they do not deal with the primary cause of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. They only treat one part of a threefold illness – the physical aspect. If the disease was purely physical, then no drug addict or alcoholic would need treatment beyond medical detox. Once the physical addiction was treated at a medical detox facility, there would be no reason to ever drink or use drugs again. However, medical detox alone, much like sober pills, has a very low rate of success.

Alcoholism is characterized by a physical allergy, a mental obsession, and a spiritual malady. For most drug addicts and alcoholics, alcohol and drugs themselves are not the problem. They are the solution.  True alcoholics and drug addicts take drugs and drink to solve their mental and spiritual issues. If the underlying mental obsession and spiritual malady are not treated, it is very unlikely that an alcoholic or drug addict will stay sober in the long term.

Whether or not sober pills like Iomazenil are effective in the treatment of alcoholism, in conjunction with drug and alcohol treatment or 12-step programs, remains to be seen. However, Iomazenil alone will probably be as effective as other sober pills on the market. The one use that may allow Iomazenil to stand out from the rest is its ability to treat alcohol intoxication. The study suggests that the pill can “sober up” a person who has been drinking, a heretofore unprecedented effect. If effective, the newest sober pill on the market may have a significant impact on the number of deadly drunk-driving crashes.

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