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Treating Alcohol Problems with Medications Such as Naltrexone

Posted in Alcoholism Treatment

Substance abuse treatment facilities are equipped with many different forms of treatment for alcohol use disorder. Counseling, participation in AA groups, and coaching for social settings with alcohol are among the options offered to individuals struggling with an addiction to alcohol.

One form of treatment that has not been widely applied to alcohol use disorder is intervention with medicine. A recent study by Amanda J. Abraham and Paul M. Roman examined the early adoption of naltrexone as an injectable drug for alcohol use disorder. The study looked at the private-treatment sector to see how injectable naltrexone was being administered.

The study began with the understanding that the substance abuse treatment facilities in the United States have not been enthusiastic about using medications for alcohol use disorders.

The objectives of the study were focused on understanding how the characteristics of injectable naltrexone shape decisions whether the use the medication at the organizational level and on identifying predictors of adoption and barriers that discourage adoption.

The study looked at 345 privately-funded U.S. substance abuse treatment programs. The data was obtained from a nationally representative sample of programs, and the researchers used the data to examine use of injectable naltrexone.

The results of the study show that 16 percent of the programs examined were early adopters of injectable naltrexone as a treatment for alcohol use disorder. The researchers used multivariate logistic regression models to determine that there are certain factors that predict adoption of injectable naltrexone: the percentage of patients paying with private insurance and organizational size.

The strongest predictor of adoption, however, is innovation compatibility. Innovation compatibility is measured by how the program utilizes other types of pharmacotherapies for alcohol use disorder.

There are also several predictors of treatment facilities not using the medicine as a treatment for alcohol use disorder. Factors such as cost, lack of access to prescribing physicians and lack of knowledge about injectable naltrexone can all be circumstances that affect the use of the medication.

70 percent of the patients that receive the medication continue its use for at least two months, which is evidence that injectable naltrexone addresses the patient compliance barrier.

The use of injectable naltrexone gives treatment facilities another tool to assist individuals who are struggling with alcohol use disorder. Its adoption into more treatment facilities may provide those for whom other treatment strategies have not worked another option in healing.