(DGIwire) – For most adults, moderate alcohol use—no more than two drinks a day for men and one for women and older people—is relatively harmless, the American Psychological Association reports. But heavier drinking quickly gets risky. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). About 17 million Americans, notes the NIAAA, suffer from some form of AUD. Here are five questions to ask about this serious condition:
- What exactly is AUD? According to the Mayo Clinic, it is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when drinking is rapidly reduced or discontinued.
- What are some telltale signs and symptoms? Drinking more or longer than intended, wanting to cut down or stop drinking but being unable to, having drinking interfere with taking care of home, family or job duties, and cutting back on important activities in order to drink more are among the potential signs of AUD according to the NIAAA.
- What are some of the risk factors? Binge drinking or drinking too much on a regular basis can lead to AUD, reports the Mayo Clinic—which also notes that people who begin drinking at an early age, or who have a parent or close relative with alcohol problems, or who suffer from depression, or who have friends or a close partner who drink regularly, are also at increased risk.
- What new treatments are being studied? Opiant Pharmaceuticals is studying OPNT002, an intranasally dosed opioid antagonist, for the treatment of AUD. The company has shown in a Phase 1 clinical study that OPNT002 demonstrated rapid intranasal absorption, and the company is planning additional clinical studies in 2017.
“Many current therapies for AUD have limited efficacy and low levels of adherence,” says Roger Crystal, M.D., CEO of Opiant. “In contrast, opioid antagonists have an established record of safety and efficacy. We expect that OPNT002 will be highly differentiated by being used on an ‘as needed’ basis.”
Opiant is studying the use of opioid antagonists in various delivery forms, in particular using nasal sprays, for the treatment of addictions. The company has already developed NARCAN® Nasal Spray, a version of naloxone, which is being marketed by its partner and licensee, Adapt Pharma.
“In light of the ongoing need for improved treatment of AUD, we are looking forward to refining our clinical plan and advancing our program into additional clinical studies,” Dr. Crystal adds.