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A medication used to help smokers butt out may also curb the use of alcohol, new research suggests.

In a series of experiments, heavy-to-moderate social drinkers were given either a dose of varenicline or a placebo three hours before consuming an alcoholic drink. Compared to the placebo, "varenicline increased the unpleasant effects of alcohol and decreased drug liking," said the lead researcher, Emma Childs at the University of Chicago.

Although one small study doesn't prove it would work long term, the researchers said it would be worthwhile having a treatment for people struggling with both tobacco and alcohol addictions – two vices that often go hand in hand.

Story continues below advertisement

The study was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. In Canada, varenicline is sold under the brand name of Champix.

But varenicline is not without issues. The smoking-cessation drug has been linked to reports of psychiatric problems including suicidal thoughts, hostility, aggression, disturbing dreams and depression.

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