Novel therapeutic strategies for alcohol and drug addiction: focus on GABA, ion channels and transcranial magnetic stimulation

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2012 Jan;37(1):163-77. doi: 10.1038/npp.2011.216. Epub 2011 Oct 26.


Drug addiction represents a major social problem where addicts and alcoholics continue to seek and take drugs despite adverse social, personal, emotional, and legal consequences. A number of pharmacological compounds have been tested in human addicts with the goal of reducing the level or frequency of intake, but these pharmacotherapies have often been of only moderate efficacy or act in a sub-population of humans. Thus, there is a tremendous need for new therapeutic interventions to treat addiction. Here, we review recent interesting studies focusing on gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors, voltage-gated ion channels, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Some of these treatments show considerable promise to reduce addictive behaviors, or the early clinical studies or pre-clinical rationale suggest that a promising avenue could be developed. Thus, it is likely that within a decade or so, we could have important new and effective treatments to achieve the goal of reducing the burden of human addiction and alcoholism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / metabolism*
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Brain Chemistry / drug effects
  • Brain Chemistry / physiology
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / physiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / metabolism*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / physiopathology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • Ion Channels
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid