Friday, May 30, 2014

Naltrexone, Acamprosate More Effective in Treating Alcohol Addiction, Study Finds

Several medications are available to help people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) maintain abstinence or reduce drinking, but the amount of information available on the efficacy of such medications for AUD may be too cumbersome for providers to digest, according to researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC).

Clinician-scientists from the Evidence-based Practice Center and Bowles Center of Alcohol Studies at UNC conducted a systematic review of 122 randomized, controlled trials to assess the benefits and potential harms of medications—approved and unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration—for adults with AUD. The results, published in JAMA, showed acamprosate and naltrexone to have the best evidence for maintaining abstinence from drinking and reducing days of heavy drinking. As for medications sometimes used off-label for AUD, there were moderate improvements in some drinking outcomes for topiramate and nalmefene.

James Garbutt, M.D. (pictured above), senior author of the study and a professor of psychiatry at UNC, commented, “This work expands upon the growing evidence that medications can play a valuable role in the treatment of alcohol use disorders. We are hopeful that this information will encourage clinicians to strongly consider these medications and those individuals will gain awareness that there are medications that can help them to stop or significantly reduce their alcohol use.”

To read more about pharmacotherapies intended to treat alcohol use disorder, see the Psychiatric News articles, "Anticonvulsant Drug Shows Efficacy in Treating Alcoholism," and "Genes May Determine Drug’s Alcohol-Treatment Success."