Could alcohol patches work for alcoholics as nicotine patches do for smokers?

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Can alcohol be absorbed through the skin? If it can could you (the drug companies) make an alcohol patch? like those smoking patches. Would this work to reduce alcohol dependency in alcoholics?

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« Last Edit: 28/10/2008 10:42:41 by BenV »



  • Guest
Yes and no.

Alcohol can be absorbed through the skin, but one tends to consume alcohol in larger quantities (for the same biological effect) than one does nicotine (and nicotine is only a small fraction of the contents of a cigarette, while alcohol is a substantial portion of an alcoholic beverage), so the amount of alcohol you would need to absorb through the skin is substantially more.  Also, trying to absorb that amount of alcohol through the skin will do no good for the skin at all.

In any case, the purpose of nicotine patches is to prevent people from causing lots more damage to their health from all the other things in cigarettes (it is not at all clear to me that it helps to reduce dependence on nicotine, it just moves that dependence from cigarettes to a safer source of nicotine, and maybe reduces the psychological aspects of actually holding a cigarette in your hand).  With alcoholic beverages, there is no advantage to health is separating alcohol from the rest of the beverage (on the contrary, the none alcoholic portions of alcoholic beverages can even have positive health benefits - so alcohol free wine might be good for you, but nicotine free tobacco is still bad for you).  Thus, alcohol patches would be the worst of all possible world - you lose the nutritional benefits of the beverage, which obtaining a more concentrated form of alcohol, and that alcohol would also create local damage to the skin through which it is absorbed.

Finally, alcohol is very volatile, so as much of the alcohol as might be absorbed through the skin, I would imagine even more would be breathed in as alcohol vapour.



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But would it reduce alcohol dependency?
The effect of alcohol itself is the main damage from 'drinking' but,when you use a patch, you are, at least removing some of the damage caused by inhaled smoke.


Offline DoctorBeaver

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I can't see that it would help.

People can be weaned off nicotine gradually. When your body has a certain amount of nicotine in it, your craving is satisfied. As the level drops, you want more again to top up to that level. Alcohol dependence is different. No matter the level of alcohol, more is always craved. That is why medical advice is to stop totally rather than gradually reducing intake. All detoxes involve total cessation with administered medication to alleviate the side-effects of withdrawal.

All patches would do is serve to "kick off" the craving.
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Offline Don_1

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I can see wino's under the arches of railways smothering themselves in patches.

'Er mate, 'ave yu got eny Tennants Extra Strong patches? An' gis a bottle 'o extra strong cider while i'm 'er waitin'.'
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.


Offline subzero

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this patch does exist and a company called Viaguard has put the patch out.  It contains antagonist for GABA and right now they are recommended at AA meetings.  Look up Viaguard alco-patch.