A five-year field trial of intensive nicotinic acid therapy for alcoholics in Michigan

An American study from 1966, the author writes: “We were originally intrigued by several factors regarding the possible benefits of massive doses of nicotinic acid in the alcoholic population. This study was conducted in May 1966, at a time when there were some very interesting findings in the research literature concerning alcohol metabolism. Moreover, we were responding to the epidemic of substance abuse among our young people with frantic literature searches, speculation, and accelerated research in psychopharmacology.”

The focus is on the use of vitamin B3 (niacin) in the treatment of alcoholics. The author summarizes the results thus:

A five-year longitudinal field trial of nicotinic acid was conducted on 507 known alcoholics to determine what effects and benefits might result. Our experience suggests that:

  • Nicotinic acid may benefit 50 to 60 percent of alcoholics in the organic stage.
  • Nicotinic acid may benefit about 30 percent of the total alcoholic population.
  • Benefits can be measured in terms of: Reduction in insomnia.
  • Stabilization of mood. Decrease in calming tolerance. Restoration of nontoxic sensorium. Reduction in drinking relapse. Improved ability to use other treatment resources. Improved social and emotional functioning. Reduction or absence of need to use other forms of medication.
  • Potential disadvantages include: Persistent unpleasant histamine effect.
  • Blocking of the antabuse response. Occasional visual disturbance. Occasional gastroenteritis. Distortion of diabetes mellitus status.
  • Nicotinic acid may be a potent pharmacologic agent.
  • Double-blind and controlled studies should be performed if the mechanical problem of histamine symptoms can be initially overcome.
  • Studies of the site of action of nicotinic acid could potentially provide significant new insights into toxic brain syndrome, senile brain syndrome, alcohol tolerance, and alcoholism itself.

A Five-Year Field Trial of Massive Nicotinic Acid Therapy of Alcoholics in Michigan.

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