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Can a BPH drug cure alcoholism? New research shows that finasteride (also sold under brand names Propecia and Proscar) diminishes one’s desire for alcohol. Propecia and Proscar are used to treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The drugs have been getting a lot of press lately for some of the sexual side effects they cause. One of their other prescribed uses is as an anti-baldness drug.
A study conducted at George Washington University by Dr. Michael S. Irwig looked at 83 men who suffered sexual dysfunction side effects after being treated with Propecia. They found that 65% of those men who usually drank at least one alcoholic drink per week before starting treatment with the drug lost their urge to drink once they started taking it. This study shows that the drug has potential in treating alcoholism.
However, while patients and doctors may wonder, “Can this BPH drug cure alcoholism?” they need to note the serious side effects of the drug before prescribing it.
Side effects of Propecia and Proscar
All of their side effects are not yet known, and the effects of the drugs do not necessarily go away once you stop taking them. Dr. Irwin led a previous study that found that 94% of men taking Propecia who experienced sexual dysfunction had a lowered libido. He also found that 69% of those men experienced difficulty in achieving an orgasm. Other sexual side effects include erectile dysfunction, abnormal ejaculation, and testicular pain. On average, the sexual dysfunction lasted for 40 months after the patients stopped taking the medication. Sexual dysfunction lasted over five years in some cases.
There are other side effects as well. Nonsexual side effects include depression, swelling of the hands or feet, swelling or tenderness in the breast, dizziness, weakness, feeling faint, headache, runny nose, or rash.
In 2012, Merck changed their labeling on Propecia to alert patients to the risk of sexual dysfunction that may be permanent. The updated label reads: “Reproductive System: Sexual dysfunction that continued after discontinuation of treatment, including erectile dysfunction, libido disorders, ejaculation disorders, and orgasm disorders; male infertility and/or poor seminal quality (normalization or improvement of seminal quality has been reported after discontinuation of finasteride).”
Can this BPH drug cure alcoholism? While it does show some promise, we need further research into how the drug can be used. The side effects of the medication are undesirable and possibly permanent. Talk to you doctor about this medication before taking it.
Irwig MS. Decreased alcohol consumption among former male users of finasteride with persistent sexual side effects: a preliminary report. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 2013 Nov; 37(1): 1823-26