Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Medication helps alcoholics control drinking

18.02.2005


A little-known drug called naltrexone provides a “meaningful benefit” in helping alcoholics moderate their drinking, according to the latest review of evidence from 29 studies on four continents.



The findings, along with the recent FDA approval of a similar drug called acamprosate, open the door to new treatment options for drinkers who aren’t yet ready to face total abstinence. Naltrexone, which is not addictive, “should be accepted as a short-term treatment for alcoholism,” say authors Dr. Manit Srisurapanont and Dr. Ngamwong Jarusuraisin of Thailand’s Chiang Mai University. Almost all of the studies tested naltrexone, or NTX, in combination with psychosocial treatments such as counseling or self-help groups, and the authors recommend using this approach in everyday practice.

The review’s conclusions are based on “high-quality evidence” that naltrexone reduces by 36 percent the risk of an alcoholic relapsing to heavy drinking in the first three months of recovery. “Short-term treatment of NTX for alcoholism gives a meaningful benefit in preventing a relapse,” the review said, citing an 18 percent lower likelihood that patients will abandon their treatment program. The review appears in the most recent issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.


Dr. Joseph Volpicelli, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, has been conducting research on naltrexone use for alcohol dependence since the early 1980s. Naltrexone blocks the brain’s receptors for natural painkillers, known as opioids, which normally create the feeling of wellbeing associated with drinking. He explains that the benefits of naltrexone lie not so much in preventing a patient from having one drink, but rather in breaking the cycle where one drink leads to many more. “Naltrexone helps people have more control over the use of alcohol. For me, that’s the fundamental issue of what addiction is: impaired control.”

However, this approach requires a substantial change from the abstinence-only philosophy that goes back at least as far as Prohibition. Naltrexone is most effective, says Volpicelli, in a treatment program “designed to support the notion that while one drink is not great, what you really want to stop is excessive drinking.” While few professionals advise people with alcoholism to abandon the ultimate goal of total abstinence, Volpicelli argues that about 20 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse disorders, yet only about 2 million are in any kind of treatment program. “We should be flexible enough to get at that 90 percent of people who aren’t in treatment,” he says.

The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration agrees in its naltrexone treatment protocol, saying, “Abstinence should be a desired goal for the patient; however, reductions in drinking may be an acceptable intermediate outcome … because there are many other areas of a patient’s life that can improve, such as job performance, social relationships, and general physical health.”

Although naltrexone (ReVia) has been available for more than 10 years, Volpicelli says it has been poorly marketed, and most patients and primary care doctors remain unaware of its potential. That may change now that the manufacturer of acamprosate (Campral) has embarked on a campaign to promote pharmacological treatment of alcohol addiction.

Review author Srisurapanont notes that the availability of both medicines now gives patients an alternative if one is not effective for them. And, he adds, the possible benefits of using the medications in combination should be studied. The review also notes that other areas ripe for future study include the possible benefit of continuing naltrexone treatment beyond the first three months of recovery and strategies to further increase treatment completion.

Volpicelli believes psychiatry is on the brink of recognizing a new standard of care for alcohol abuse disorders: allowing patients to choose from a variety of treatments, which may or many not focus on total abstinence. It is, he believes, a time of great hope. To those who suffer with alcoholism, he says, “Be aware of all the options available and find the best one for you. See someone, stay in treatment, and over time you’re going to get better.”

1. Srisurapanont M, Jarusuraisin N. Opioid Antagonists for Alcohol Dependence (Review). The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 1

Manit Srisurapanont | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.hbns.org

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Biofilm discovery suggests new way to prevent dangerous infections
23.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin

nachricht Another reason to exercise: Burning bone fat -- a key to better bone health
19.05.2017 | University of North Carolina Health Care

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>