Press reports|on alternative treatment of addiction

Alcohol - underestimated danger - cytotoxin in every sip

Dr. Schnell recommends the following article released in the WELT Edition app:
"After-work drinks, champagne receptions, beer showers after championship celebrations: The consumption of alcohol is mostly assessed as positive. Unjustly as alcohol is a harmful cytotoxin, according to experts. (...)

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Lecture by Dr. Schnell on Baclofen therapy

"The little prince meets the drunkard"...

...and he is sorry for him. The little prince is baffled and leaves the alcoholic alone.

Medicine almost always leaves the alcoholic alone, tells him he should stop, he just has to want it, he should work on himself. He is admitted as an in-patient, sometimes discharged disciplinarily, forced to open up and to admit that he is an alcoholic, then ultimately he is locked up in a rehab clinic for 6 weeks. He leaves the clinic after having received the best possible treatment... and relapses in the first 14 days. He is told that he has not understood it and everything starts again. He is alone, he is ashamed, despairs of himself and drinks again. The family is tortured by conflicting feelings of contempt, disgust, anger, disappointment, frustration and then in turn care, help and the intention of absolute support. This drama of familial inner conflict stretches across the years, until finally the whole family is burnt out.

Read the whole lecture here (PDF, 276 KB) ... »

Treatment of alcohol addiction with high-dose Baclofen

The first randomized and placebo-controlled trial with high-dosed Baclofen (up to 270 mg/day).

Previous randomized, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) dealing with the efficacy of the selective gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) B receptor agonist Baclofen in the treatment of alcohol addiction reported varying results which could be linked to the low to medium dosage of the active ingredient Baclofen (30–80 mg/day). Building on preclinical observations which suggested dosage-dependent effects and based on positive case studies of patients addicted to alcohol, the aim of the present trial was to examine the efficacy and safety of a Baclofen treatment of alcohol addiction with individually adjusted high dosages.

Out of 93 gradually selected patients addicted to alcohol, 56 were randomly allocated to a double-blind treatment with individually adjusted dosages of Baclofen or placebo (30–270 mg/day). (...)
Read the complete trial "Treatment of alcohol addiction with high-dose Baclofen" here »

Baclofen for the treatment of alcohol dependence

This certifies the efficacy of Baclofen in the treatment of alcohol addiction. This could provide a new reference especially for general practitioners and specialists; the majority of physicians still refuse to prescribe Baclofen for the treatment of alcohol dependence. In this case, the technically competent judgement of Charité Berlin may be decisive for therapy trials with Baclofen.

C. Müller, K. Vollmer, J. Hein, A. Heinz Charité Berlin: Baclofen zur Behandlung der Alkoholabhängigkeit.
In: "Sucht", edition 3-4 June 2010, 167-174

Read the complete article: "Baclofen zur Behandlung der Alkoholabhängigkeit” (Baclofen for the treatment of alcohol dependence)

Baclofen – pill instead of bottle – what's the story with the pill against alcoholism?

The common view of experts is still:

Alcoholics cannot be cured. However, alcoholism can be brought to a halt through life-long sobriety at best. Has anything changed about that?

"They are astonished and recognize that the indispensability of alcohol which has accompanied them their whole life has suddenly disappeared."

This is what doctor and psychotherapist Annie Rapp, Prof. Philippe Jaury and many other specialists for addiction say who have treated their patients with Baclofen for 3 years.

The self-experiment by French cardiologist Prof. Olivier Ameisen und his autobiographical work "Das Ende meiner Sucht" [The end of my addiction] published in 2007 have motivated many doctors to test Baclofen as an individual treatment attempt for their patients within the framework of an "off-label" application.
Since 2007, new trials have been started worldwide. At the turn of the year, a phase IV trial with 300 patients will be started.

Prof. Andreas Heinz, Charité Berlin, who started his own trial with Baclofen in February 2011 says: "In the case of depression, we have long recognized that medication helps in many cases. It is time to accept this with alcohol addiction, too. Baclofen was introduced onto the market as an antispasmodic for spastic patients decades ago. Nowadays, however, there are many indications that the medication can also help alcoholics. Some animal tests have proven this, and many patients who take this medication report that the cravings disappear".


France allows medication against alcoholism

We recommend the following article form the WELT tablet app:
Suchtkrankheit [Addiction]

Frankreich lässt Medikament gegen Alkoholismus zu [France allows medication against alcoholism]

As of now, Baclofen containing the active ingredient of the same name is temporarily approved for the treatment of alcohol addiction in France.

On Friday, the French Agency for the Safety of Health Products announced in Paris that the medication which was actually developed to combat muscle cramps will now be provisionally approved for the treatment of alcoholism. Renowned doctors in France had been requesting this for a long time as trials had shown a high success rate with Baclofen in the treatment of alcohol addiction.

The medication which is also approved for treatment of cerebral palsy in Germany and sold by pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis and Sanofi has already been prescribed to alcoholic patients by individual physicians. There are very few side effects of Baclofen which evidently intervenes in the reward system in the brain. The medication has been on the market since 1975.

The French cardiologist Olivier Ameisen came across the efficacy of the medication against alcohol addiction. He was severely alcohol-dependent himself and, by his own account, cured himself from the addiction with Baclofen during a self-experiment. 10 years ago, he published a specialist article. Later, his book "Das Ende meiner Sucht" followed which caused a stir and brought a series of studies on Baclofen for the treatment of alcohol addiction.

How people become puppets

Addiction: Alcohol rebuilds the brain and affects the ultra-fast neural pathways of the brainstem. Dr. Schnell wants the intellect to be the master of the head again.


Medication against addiction
The Regensburg-based doctor Dr. Vera Schnell treats alcoholic patients over an extended weekend at Evangelisches Krankenhaus (Evangelical Hospital). The inpatient treatment starts with detoxification with infusions with sugar, vitamins and magnesium.
The strategy is to block the control center in the amygdala. For this purpose, the doctor administers a medication which has been on the market for 30 years but which is only approved for the treatment of muscular diseases in Germany but not for the treatment of alcoholics.
"The responsibility lies with the treating physician”, says Dr. Schnell and points out that 300,000 alcoholics have already been treated with the low-cost medication in France. It frees alcoholics from the urge to drink but must be administered for several years.


Klein, Heinz: Wie der Mensch zur Marionette wird. In: Mittelbayerische Zeitung from 14 March, 2014, page 19

Read the complete article: "Wie der Mensch zur Marionette wird” (How people become puppets) (PDF, 110 KB)

The drunksuit

I'm about to crash. I am steering a car and I see nothing, hear nothings, can hardly steer, hardly brake. The signs on the side of the road appear in triplicate before my eyes, oversized and threateningly close, and so do parked cars. My car hops because my left leg does not obey when changing gears.

We recommend reading the complete article which was published under the title "Der Blau-Macher" (The drunksuit) in Focus magazine 14/2014.

There is a cure for addiction

In France, alcoholics can take the active ingredient Baclofen to tackle their addiction. In Germany, however, an approval is not in sight. Experts are eagerly awaiting the trial results.
10 years ago, a French doctor stirred up the world of alcoholics and addiction therapists: Back then, the cardiologist Olivier Ameisen published a specialist article in which he described his personal battle with alcohol. He successfully tested the active ingredient Baclofen on himself in order to get his drinking behavior under control. Later, his book "Das Ende meiner Sucht" (The end of my addiction) was published.
Based on this book or the articles, patients ask their doctors for the medication to date. But until now, it can only be prescribed in exceptional cases ("off label") in Germany where the medication is only approved for treatment of muscle cramps with some diseases and cerebral palsy.
This did not discourage Friedrich Kreuzeder: After the publication of the book in Germany, the man from Munich consulted a general practitioner who took his time and dared to do the Baclofen experiment with him. In the past, neither short-term nor long-term therapy helped him with his alcohol addiction. Even the support of the Alcoholics Anonymous failed. "Until then, I had no experience with medications," Kreuzeder said.
According to his own statement, he hit the bottle due to an anxiety disorder and depression as has been the case with Ameisen. Today, Kreuzeder shares his experience as an addiction counselor. Furthermore, he runs a forum where affected persons and specialists can exchange views. He and his fellow campaigners think that German clinics are not open to the new medication. After all, they would benefit from the cycle of detoxification, withdrawal and aftertreatment as well as trials of other active ingredients.

Liebram, Claudia: Es gibt ein Mittel gegen die Sucht - aber nicht bei uns. In: WELT (tablet app)

We recommend reading the complete article: "Es gibt ein Mittel gegen die Sucht - aber nicht bei uns" (There is a cure for addiction - but not here) (PDF, 571 KB)

In the doctor's office of Dr. Schnell, you will be treated with this medication!

Addiction in a cage

A long-term experiment shows: Rats have striking similarities with the addiction behavior of humans

At 5 pm on the dot, the lights go out in the cellar of the Institute of Clinical Neurobiology of the Freie Universität Berlin. Yet, there is no peace and quiet. Rustling can be heard from the small stacked wire cages. The rats' day really begins when it gets dark. The animals nibble on crumbs of food or suck on one of the bottles. What the rats drink is completely up to them.

They can choose between water and 5%, 10% and 20% alcohol. "This is equivalent to the alcoholic strength of beer, wine and schnapps," Andrea Heyne explains. A few cages down, they can choose between water and differently dosed drinking solutions with opiates or amphetamines. Whether alcohol, tranquilizers or stimulants – when given the choice, all animals will choose drugs.

For more than ten years, Prof. Jochen Wolffgramm and his colleague Andrea Heyne study the development of addiction. The result of their years of research: Just like humans, the rodents become addicted to drugs. "This, however, does not happen overnight. It is a long development which ends up in a loss of control – just like with humans," Andrea Heyne says.

In the end, even the addicted rat no longer had its drug use "under control". The rodents' drug use is strikingly similar to humans: In an "introductory phase", they learn how to deal with drugs and test how the dosages affect them. "Someone who knows how beer affects them is not necessarily in the position to convert this into liqueur," Jochen Wolffgramm says. After a few weeks, the animals developed a "controlled consumption". How many drugs they take depends on their mood and their "personality". Dominant, aggressive animals manage with lower quantities of drugs than animals which are less dominant. What is even more astonishing: "Rats specifically use drugs to stimulate themselves," Mr. Wolffgramm says. In a group, rats drink a moderate amount but socially isolated rodents drink significantly more.

The phase of "controlled consumption" last for a very long time – approximately one third of their lives. Some rats never leave this phase, others suddenly begin to increase their drug use significantly. This applies to around half of all study animals. "Yet, we have not been able to predict which animals are affected until now," Andrea Heyne emphasizes. But one thing is certain: These animals are addicted.

This is proven by the "retest": The drugs are withdrawn from the rodents. They compulsorily remain "clean" for up to nine months – roughly about one third of a rat's life. When offering drugs after a long period of abstinence, the rats immediately take them voluntarily and in extremely high doses – even if the "cocktail" offered tastes unpleasantly as bitter substances have been added. Such a loss of control is an unmistakable indicator of an addiction – both in humans and in animals.

Another criterion from human medicine is the "loss of reversibility": The craving for drugs remains even after several months of abstinence. It is irreversible. "This means that some kind of addiction memory must have formed," Mr. Wolffgramm concludes. However, in the search for changes in the rat's brain, the researchers face a difficulty: They must differentiate between changes caused by drugs as a substance in the brain and changes that are signs of an addiction.

The researchers have still been able to locate the "addiction memory" in the brain. Rats only become addicted when given the free choice. Animals which were forced to use drugs did not become addicted. Neurochemists in the work group then compared the brains of voluntarily addicted rats with those of rats that were forcibly intoxicated and encountered changes of the signal processing in the nigrostriatal pathway. This area of the brain is also responsible for relatively firm stimulus-response relations with normal behavior and borders on the part of the brain that is responsible for flexibly dealing with the environment.

The research team is happy: "Now, we can continue our work". Firstly, it must be found out what exactly has changed in the brain of the addicted animals in terms of neurochemistry or molecular biology. The transition from controlled drinking to addiction is particularly interesting. Based on this, the researchers hope to be able to develop an effective addiction therapy. "We are working with great energy", Andrea Heyne emphasizes.

If the processes in the addicted brain are clarified, a medication could be developed specifically using "molecular drug design" which compensates the biochemical changes in the brain or permanently "deletes" the addiction memory. Researchers of the FU are optimistic: "The most time-consuming step was to develop the animal model." And they have already completed this step.

Schrum, Anja: Sucht im Käfig. In: Berliner Morgenpost 1998, 12 August, 1998