Help for alcoholics


A new drug could help alcoholics kick the bottle.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given its seal of approval to Revia, which scientists say reduces the craving for alcohol and the pleasure of having a drink.

"This is the beginning of a new era in alcoholism treatment," Enoch Gordis, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, said.

The discovery marks the first new treatment for compulsive drinkers in 47 years.

Until now, the only drug on offer has been Antabuse, which induces nausea in the user after tasting a few drops of the hard stuff.

In tests Revia, the commercial name for naltrexone, helped three- quarters of drinkers to avoid a relapse into alcoholism, compared with less than half of those who had counselling alone.

Naltrexone was first developed by the chemical giant Du Pont in 1984 to fight heroin addiction.

The drug's side-effects are nausea in 10 per cent of cases and liver toxicity if used excessively.