Binge Drinking Decreased With Naltrexone
A new study in the American Journal of Psychiatry demonstrated that taking Naltrexone before drinking could reduce the amount of alcohol consumed.
The full article titled “Binge Drinking May Be Curbed With a Pill” requires a subscription to NYT, but a summary of the study’s findings is below:
In the study, which was published in December in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 120 men who wanted to reduce binging but were not severely dependent on alcohol were given naltrexone to take whenever they felt a craving for alcohol or anticipated a period of heavy drinking.
Naltrexone, which blocks endorphins and reduces the euphoria of intoxication, was approved in the United States for the treatment of alcohol dependence nearly 30 years ago. But it is typically prescribed for patients with more severe alcohol disorders to take daily to abstain from drinking.
The new study’s targeted approach, in which patients were advised to take the pill before they expected to drink, is less common, although studies going back decades have also demonstrated the effectiveness of the as-needed dosing method.
The randomized controlled trial was double-blinded, so half of the men received naltrexone and half received a placebo, and neither the participants nor the scientists knew who had received which. Each week, participants also received counseling on how to reduce their alcohol use.
By the end of the 12-week study, those given naltrexone reported binging less frequently and consuming less alcohol than those who had been given a placebo, a change that lasted for up to six months. The most commonly reported side effect of naltrexone was nausea, although it was generally mild and resolved itself as people adjusted to taking the drug.