Naltrexone has been discussed here, as treating opioid and alcohol use disorders. It did not start out as a weight control candidate, but showed itself capable of helping with compulsive overeating. Nevertheless, its description might fairly be summarized as risky. Contrave, the brand name it appears under, comes with numerous contraindications.
In addition to being able to inhibit the activation of opioid receptors, naloxone acts as a competitive antagonist and is able to actively reverse the narcotic effects of many full opioid agonist drugs. It is this ability that makes naloxone such an important medication in treating opioid overdoses and saving lives.
The opioid antagonist is also known to alleviate food cravings, which lends credence to the idea that food and/or eating can be addictive. The combination of substance addiction and behavioral addiction might be what makes calorie management so difficult. Dr. Pretlow’s article in Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, which was titled “Addiction to Highly Pleasurable Food as a Cause of the Childhood Obesity Epidemic: A Qualitative Internet Study,” said:
[T]he reward value of both highly pleasurable foods and drugs of abuse is reduced by pharmacological blockage of dopamine receptors…
The opiate system of the brain is likewise involved in both drugs of abuse and pleasurable food reward, as opiate inhibiters such as naloxone, used for treating heroin abuse, also reduce fondness for and consumption of sweet, high fat foods in both normal weight and obese binge eaters.
Childhood Obesity News compared compulsive overeating with nicotine addiction, and looked at public smoking cessation programs as they might relate to efforts to end the obesity epidemic. A similar question is, how do alcohol addiction programs compare to methods of treating obesity? American Addiction Centers says,
The addictive nature of many substances derives from the way they manipulate the brain’s pleasure and reward centers.
To help treat certain types of addiction, a person may be prescribed medications that diminish cravings and withdrawal, counter the intoxicating effects of a drug, or have “off-label” uses that support the individual in recovery.
Despite the existence of some apparently useful drugs, people often seemed to reluctant to try them or stick with them because of physical and mental side effects that included “nausea, dizziness, vomiting, abdominal pain, arthritis and joint fitness,” as well as depressive and psychiatric symptoms.
(To be continued…)
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Medications for Addiction Treatment,” AmericanAddictionCenters.org, 06/19/19
Source: “Addiction to Highly Pleasurable Food as a Cause of the Childhood Obesity Epidemic: A Qualitative Internet Study,” NIH.gov, July 2011
Source: “Adial Pharmaceuticals Engages CRO to Begin Phase 3 Clinical Trials of AD04 for the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder,” AdialPharma.com, 11/19/18
Photo credit: mkhmarketing on Visualhunt/CC BY