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This website is an information resource for anyone interested in finding out about apomorphine for alcohol addiction.

Apomorphine is a chemical compound that’s been around since 1869. Today it’s used routinely to treat patients for Parkinson disease. But did you know apomorphine can help chronic alcoholics to stop drinking. A short non-addictive treatment, it eliminates the physical urge to drink and alleviates anxiety. 

My name is Antonia Rubinstein and I first heard the word ‘apomorphine’ as a teenager. My grandfather, Dr John Yerbury Dent, used it successfully to treat his alcoholic patients. I didn’t know him but my mother told me about his failed attempts to make apomorphine widely available through the NHS in the 1950s.

I stumbled across apomorphine independently of my family connection when I worked in prisons, discovering that Dent’s treatment was known to addicts through the writings of US author William Burroughs, who had been successfully treated by him. 

When I revealed to a group of recovering alcoholics that I was related to Dent they asked why the treatment wasn’t available. 

Working in prisons I witnessed, first-hand, the long-term damaging effects of alcoholism, not just on the lives of prisoners but also the staff. It seemed to me that the chemical treatments to stop craving were limited. I started to wonder if apomorphine could be another option. When I saw the disintegration of a friend’s marriage because of her husband’s chronic alcoholism I decided to find out if there was something I could do to get it looked at again.

I travelled to Sweden to meet the dopamine specialist and Nobel prize winner Arvid Carlsson. He told me in no uncertain terms that yes, apomorphine works. He also explained why it hadn’t been developed. Having been around since the 1900s it can’t be patented for alcohol addiction. Simply put there’s been no financial incentive for pharmaceuticals companies or research institutions to invest in trials. Also, no one has been able to develop a “one size fits all” method of administering it. The old time practitioners all seem to agree that, for apomorphine to be effective each patient requires their own individualised dose. This made it too time consuming and expensive to scale up.

I then went to see Professor David Nutt, at Imperial College, London. He wasn’t familiar with the historical evidence that apomorphine given in low doses supresses craving. With interest amongst the medical research community in the repurposing of known compounds to treat addiction, he thought apomorphine, with its well documented history, a suitable candidate for re-investigation. He suggested I create this website to raise awareness of apomorphine as a potential treatment for addiction. I also met Professor Andrew Lees, Professor of Neurology at University College, London, a long-time believer in the merit of apomorphine for addiction treatment. Having developed a way to give apomorphine continuously to his Parkinsonism patients Andrew suggested that new technologies such as a nasal spray, patch or an epi-pen could simplify the administration of the medication.

Alcohol addiction is a devastating illness. In 2015 there were approximately 145,000 dependent drinkers in the UK receiving treatment* with 52% of this group self-referring.* I believe many of these people, and their family and friends, would want to know about the potential benefits of apomorphine.

My aim with this website is to bring about a clinical trial testing the efficacy of apomorphine in eliminating the physical craving for alcohol. Inspired by the recent success of the icancer crowd funding campaign I’m proposing a similar approach to realise the first ever clinical trial funded by people affected by alcohol addiction.

I’ve been greatly encouraged in this endeavour by friends and knowledgeable specialists in the fields of neuropharmacology and neuroscience. I couldn’t have got this far without Luke Ridley’s contribution. He has helped make the science of apomorphine understandable and much of the information on this site digestible. 

I won’t be able to bring about a trial on my own so if you want apomorphine re-investigated please register your support here.

Thank you for visiting apomorphine.info

*Source, Alcohol Change UK

Credits & Acknowledgements