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Opiate blocker boosts alcoholism treatment.



A drug that diminishes the pleasure-inducing effects of the brain's naturally occurring opiates Opiates
Analgesic, pain killing drugs, such as heroin and morphine that depress the central nervous system.

Mentioned in: Withdrawal Syndromes
 gives added punch to psychological treatments for alcoholism, at least over short periods of time, according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 two separate studies.

The drug, naltrexone naltrexone /nal·trex·one/ (nal-trek´son) an opioid antagonist used as the hydrochloride salt in treatment of opioid or alcohol abuse.

nal·trex·one
n.
An endorphin and narcotic antagonist.
, may dampen the desire to continue drinking among alcoholics who slip up and consume an alcoholic beverage alcoholic beverage

Any fermented liquor, such as wine, beer, or distilled liquor, that contains ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, as an intoxicating agent. When an alcoholic beverage is ingested, the alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the stomach and intestines because it does not
 shortly after entering a treatment program, both research teams assert in the November ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHIATRY Archives of General Psychiatry is a monthly professional medical journal published by the American Medical Association. Archives of General Psychiatry publishes original, peer-reviewed articles about psychiatry, mental health, behavioral science and related fields. .

Investigators have thus far identified no drug that consistently helps prevent a return to heavy drinking
  • Heavy drinking may mean drinking large amounts of water or alcohol.
  • Heavy drinking may also mean drinking alcohol to the point of Drunkenness.
, or relapse, among alcoholics seeking treatment. Disulfiram disulfiram /di·sul·fi·ram/ (di-sul´fi-ram) an antioxidant that inhibits the oxidation of the acetaldehyde metabolized from alcohol, resulting in high concentrations of acetaldehyde in the body. , a drug that causes unpleasant physical reactions to alcohol, helps only a minority of alcoholics.

"Naltrexone appears to be a safe and effective adjunct to the treatment of alcohol dependence," hold psychiatrist Joseph R. Volpicelli of the University of Pennsylvania (body, education) University of Pennsylvania - The home of ENIAC and Machiavelli.

http://upenn.edu/.

Address: Philadelphia, PA, USA.
 in Philadelphia and his colleagues.

The team studied 70 men, mostly black and unemployed, who entered an outpatient treatment program following supervised alcohol withdrawal. The men reported an average of 20 years of heavy alcohol use. Each man spent one month attending daily six-hour sessions that included group therapy, individual counseling, exercise, and health education. They then attended group therapy two times a week for the next 11 months.

Half the men received naltrexone pills; the rest received placebo pills for the program's first three months.

At that point, one-quarter of the naltrexone group had returned to heavy drinking or alcohol binges, compared with one-half of the placebo group, the researchers report. Moreover, 19 of 20 placebo-treated men who reported taking a drink of alcohol after entering treatment experienced a relapse, compared with eight of the 16 naltrexone-treated men.

Two men taking naltrexone complained of nausea, and another cited increased pain from arthritis, the scientists note.

A second study, directed by psychologist Stephanie S. O'Malley of Yale University Yale University, at New Haven, Conn.; coeducational. Chartered as a collegiate school for men in 1701 largely as a result of the efforts of James Pierpont, it opened at Killingworth (now Clinton) in 1702, moved (1707) to Saybrook (now Old Saybrook), and in 1716 was  School of Medicine, suggests that naltrexone enhances alchohol abstinence rates when used in combination with psychotherapy. O'Malley's team recruited 104 people receiving treatment for alcohol dependence at an outpatient clinic. Most participants were employed white men, although women made up about one-quarter of the sample.

Volunteers in the three-month study randomly received either naltrexone or placebo pills and either weekly coping skills therapy (emphasizing strategies to handle stress and avoid relapse) or supportive therapy Supportive therapy
Any form of treatment intended to relieve symptoms or help the patient live with them rather than attempt changes in character structure.
 (offering general encouragement without teaching specific coping skills).

The two groups receiving naltrexone displayed about three times the rate of abstinence as the two placebo groups, the researchers contend. Among participants who sampled alcohol during the study, less than half of those receiving a combination of naltrexone and coping skills therapy had a relapse, compared with the vast majority of those in the other three groups.

Five volunteers dropped out of O'Malley's study due to naltrexone-induced nausea or dizziness.

Volpicelli theorizes that naltrexone blocks the rush of naturally occurring opiates in the brain provoked by a first drink of alcohol, thus helping break the cycle in which one drink fuels the desire for another.

Treatment that fosters new coping skills as a front-line defense against relapse may work best in conjunction with naltrexone, O'Malley adds. The safety and effectiveness of naltrexone when used for periods longer than three months remain unknown.

"It is unlikely that any single [medication] will be effective for all alcoholic patients," Volpicelli's group adds.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Science Service, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:naltrexone may lessen desire for alcoholic beverages
Author:Bower, Bruce
Publication:Science News
Date:Nov 21, 1992
Words:543
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