Selincro: a Miracle Fix for Addiction?

For decades, society has dreamed of a miracle drug that can end substance addiction. We’ve hoped for a way to make recovery from addiction effortless and painless—that “quick fix” for addiction itself.

Lunbeck, a Danish international pharmaceutical company, claims to have finally bagged that dream and squished it into a little tablet dubbed Selincro.

Have we finally found a “miracle fix” for addiction?

Touted as the “first major innovation in the treatment of alcohol dependence in many years,” Selincro is one of the few medications to be approved by the European commission for the reduction of alcohol consumption.

Here’s the dig on Selincro:

How does Selicro work?

Selincro belongs to a class of drugs called opioid receptor antagonists. The drug interrupts the brain’s reward mechanism, decreasing the pleasurable effects of alcohol and thus, the urge to drink.

Although Selincro doesn’t prevent drinking, it effectively reduces alcohol dependence in heavy drinkers.

Is Selincro effective?

Controlled trials from a one-year study show Selincro to be particularly effective in adult patients with a high drinking risk level. Patients treated with Selincro showed a 60% reduction of alcohol intake after just six months of treatment. This is significant considering that it takes at least 2 months of treatment for the drug to start becoming effective in patients.

When will Selincro be released?

Selincro is expected to launch in mid 2013, but it is not expected to reach the US anytime soon—or ever, for that matter. Lundbeck says it has no plans to file for approval in the U.S.

One of the biggest breakthroughs in addiction treatment and we may never even see it. Dissappointing, isn’t it?

Or is it?

Alternatives to Selincro:

Truth is, we already have medication that works like Selincro. Topiramate (Topomax) and Naltrexone have both been available in the US for years. There’s also Baclofen, a different type of drug that reduces alcohol cravings…and Disulfiram (Antabuse), which causes you to vomit if you drink alcohol…and Acamprosate (Campral), a drug that is found to increase abstinence rates. And theres… well, you get the point.

The idea of developing a drug that completely erradicates drug or alcohol addiction is not a new one, but like most things, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. We often forget that there is no magic potient for addiction. Addiction, by its very definition, is a chronic condition.

Not to say that drugs have no place in an addiction treatment plan. Medications are a crucial adjunct treatment therapy, particularly during detox. For example, Benzodiazepines and muscle relaxants can help mitigate the severe symptoms of withdrawal. Disulfiram can reduce the appeal of alcohol, and other medications can help replenish your chemical and nutritional balance.

While these drugs have a place in treatment, they are not a magic shortcut to lasting sobriety.

Lasting sobriety is built on internal change, not a pill.

There is almost always more to addiction than just a physical condition. To achieve lasting sobriety, one must unearth the underlying issues that led to the addiction in the first place and then develop new habits and skills to deal with those issues. True recovery takes hard work and love, courage, hope and persistence.

True recovery is a change of the deepest kind.

No pill can ever give you that.