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Help for alcoholics


A new use for an old drug. A study confirms that the medication naltrexone (brand names Depade and ReVia) when combined with counseling like Alcoholics Anonymous, can help cut the risks associated with heavy drinking.

About 5% of the population suffers from an addition to alcohol. Alcoholism can lead to devastating consequenses with work, family and health. While 12-step programs have the most success in helping alcoholics overcome their addiction, it doesn’t work for everyone.

Naltrexone works by blocking the pleasurable feelings a person gets from drinking alcohol. This reduces the motivation to drink. It can be taken daily as either a pill or injection.

The review suggesting the new use for naltrexone was published by Cochrane Collaboration. “Hundred of drugs have been tried for relapse prevention [in alcoholism] and basically all others have failed,” said Michael ASoyka, MD, senior author of the review. “From a clinical point of view, there are few pharmacologic options for ht etreatment of alcohol dependence, so it is important to study those options that look promising.”

Researchers found that patients that received naltrexone were 17% less likely to return to heavey drinking than those that received placebo. “that would mean that naltexone can be expected to prevent heavy drinking in one out of eight patients who would otherwise have returned to a heavy drinking pattern,” Soyka projected. The drug also increased the number of people who quit altogether by 4%.

It may not be a miracle cure, but it is encouraging that these numbers are on par with other psychiatric pharmaceutical treatments.

Naltrexone is not approved for this use, yet. Talk to your doctor if you are interested.

Sourcew: Center for Advancing Health, ScienceDaily


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