Wednesday, April 22, 2015

SAMHSA, NIAAA Develop New Guidance on Pharmacotherapy for Alcohol Use Disorders

In recognition of April as Alcohol Awareness Month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have released a new guidance on the use of medications to assist in the treatment of alcohol disorders.

Despite the high prevalence of alcohol use problems in the United States and the growing recognition that these problems are a legitimate medical condition, only a fraction of people participating in counseling or a specialized treatment program receive medication to supplement their therapy.

This new guide, developed by a panel of experts in alcohol research, clinical care, medical education, and public policy, was designed for use by primary care and specialty providers, though patients and their families may find it informative as well.

The SAMHSA/NIAAA guide provides detailed information on the four medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat alcohol use disorder, prevent relapse, or both: disulfiram, oral naltrexone, extended-release injectable naltrexone, and acamprosate. It includes recommendations on screening and assessing patients for potential medication use, selecting the appropriate medication based on needs and circumstances, developing a treatment plan, and monitoring patient progress.

To learn more about the topics--including medication therapy--that NIAAA will be discussing at the APA's 2015 annual meeting next month, see the Psychiatric News article “NIAAA Track Focuses on Pharmacotherapy, Alcohol Disorder Guidelines.”

Also, check out The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, Fifth Edition from American Psychiatric Publishing. The editors of the book are Marc Galanter, M.D., Herbert D. Kleber, M.D., and Kathleen T. Brady, M.D., Ph.D.


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