UNC Department of Psychiatry
My research interests involve several directions related to the biology of alcoholism and the development of new psychopharmacological strategies to treat alcoholism.
Relationship between Sweet Preference and Alcoholism
In collaboration with Dr. Alexey Kampov of the Center for Alcohol Studies we have extended an observation made in animals that preference for alcohol and preference for sweets are strongly correlated with one another by studying sweet preference in alcoholic men. Humans can be subdivided into sweet likers and sweet dislikers based on subjective responses to increasing concentrations of sugars. We have shown that 65% of abstinent male alcoholics without significant liver or pancreatic disease can be classified as sweet likers compared to 16% of nonalcoholic, similarly aged males. We are currently investigating the replicability of this finding, associated clinical variables and possible confounders such as altered taste or smell perception.
Baclofen for the Treatment of Alcohol Dependence
We are currently studying the efficacy and tolerability of baclofen, 30 mg/d, compared to placebo in men and women with alcohol dependence. Baclofen is a GABA-B agonist that has shown promise in animal models of heavy alcohol use and in one small human placebo-controlled trial where it reduced alcohol consumption and enhanced abstinence. We are also interested in developing a pilot study of combining baclofen with naltrexone for alcoholism.
Visit the AACT website for additional information.
- Effectiveness and safety of baclofen in the treatment of alcohol dependent patients. Leggio L, Garbutt JC, Addolorato G. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2010 Mar 1;9(1):33-44.
- Sweet liking phenotype, alcohol craving and response to naltrexone treatment in alcohol dependence. Garbutt JC, Osborne M, Gallop R, Barkenbus J, Grace K, Cody M, Flannery B, Kampov-Polevoy AB. Alcohol Alcohol. 2009 May-Jun;44(3):293-300.
- The state of pharmacotherapy for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Garbutt JC. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2009 Jan;36(1):S15-23.
- Garbutt JC, Flannery B. Baclofen for alcoholism. Lancet. 2007 Dec 8;370(9603):1884-5.
- O'Malley SS, Garbutt JC, Gastfriend DR, Dong Q, Kranzler HR. Efficacy of extended-release naltrexone in alcohol-dependent patients who are abstinent before treatment. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2007 Oct;27(5):507-12.
- Gastfriend DR, Garbutt JC, Pettinati HM, Forman RF. Reduction in heavy drinking as a treatment outcome in alcohol dependence. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2007 Jul;33(1):71-80.
- Bradford BU, Karnitsching J, Powell LL, Garbutt JC. Rates of ethanol metabolism decrease in sons of alcoholics following a priming dose of ethanol. Alcohol. 2007 Jun;41(4):263-270.
- Kampov-Polevoy AB, Alterman A, Khalitov E, Garbutt JC. Sweet preference predicts mood altering effect of and impaired control over eating sweet foods. Eat Behav. 2006 Aug;7(3):181-7
- Golding M, Kotlyar M, Carson SW, Hoyler S, Lazarus C, Davidson C, Guzzo J, Sontz E, Garbutt JC. Effects of paroxetine on cardiovascular response to mental stress in subjects with a history of coronary artery disease and no psychiatric diagnoses. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2005 Nov;182(3):321-6.
- Garbutt JC, Kranzler HR, O'Malley SS, Gastfriend DR, Pettinati HM, Silverman BL, Loewy JW, Ehrich EW; Vivitrex Study Group. Efficacy and tolerability of long-acting injectable naltrexone for alcohol dependence: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2005 Apr 6;293(13):1617-25. Erratum in: JAMA. 2005 Apr 27;293(16):1978