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Review Suggests Naltrexone Effective for Treating Alcohol Dependence

Posted in Alcoholism Treatment

When trying to overcome a drinking problem, popping a pill may not be the preferred treatment method. According to a recent Science Daily release, however, it may just be what the doctor ordered.

An updated review of studies has determined that a little-used medication could help in the treatment of alcoholism. In the Cochrane review, the medication naltrexone – which is available in brand names such as Depade and ReVia – can help to cut the risk of heavy drinking when it is combined with counseling or interventions such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

When it is used correctly, naltrexone blocks the peasureable feelings or the “high” a person can achieve with drinking alcohol. The idea is to reduce the motivation to drink. The medication can be taken daily as a pill and is also available as a long-acting injection.

Senior author of the review, Michael Soyka, M.D., noted that hundreds of drugs have been tested for relapse prevention in alcohol dependence and in short, all others have failed. In reality, there are few pharmacologic options for the treatment of alcohol dependence, which makes it important to study those options that could prove promising.
Soyka and lead review author Suanne Roesner, along with their colleagues, examined the results of 50 high quality studies focused on alcohol dependence and naltrexone. Among this review, researchers determined that patients who received naltrexone were 17 percent less likely to return to heaving drinking than those who received a placebo. The drug also increased the number of people were able to abstain by 4 percent.