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Alcohol addiction could be cured with an insomnia tablet

An insomnia tablet could be a cure for those battling alcohol addiction.

A world-first trial will test whether the medication can reduce the desire for alcohol, improve sleep and prevent the cravings which plunge people into relapse.

Associate Director at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Professor Andrew Lawrence, said the trial at St Vincent’s Hospital is the culmination of 15 years of research.

“We were studying this system in terms of its relation with drug and alcohol seeking … back in 2006,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

Mr Lawrence said insomnia and alcohol addiction are closely linked.

“Alcohol has complex effects on sleep, and people with long term chronic alcohol abuse typically have dis-regulated sleep-wake cycles,” he said.

“As many as half of all people with alcohol use disorders also have insomnia, so the two things often co-occur.”

The insomnia tablet at the centre of the trial, Belsomra, is markedly different from other sleeping tablets on the market.

It targets a peptide in the brain called orexian, and acts by blocking the receptors it acts upon.

“It promotes sleep but does it in a completely different way to previous generations of sleeping tablets,” Mr Lawrence said.

Taken at smaller doses, researchers believe the sleeping tablet will reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings that drives relapse.

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