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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Drugs That Reduce Alcohol Cravings Are Rarely Used

There are two medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating alcoholism, according to The New York Times. A new study finds that both naltrexone and acamprosate have been found to reduce alcohol cravings, but they are rarely used; partly because doctors are unaware or they question the drugs efficacy.

Researchers compiled data on about 23,000 people in 122 studies. Their report showed that in order to prevent one person from returning to drinking, the number needed to take acamprosate was 12, and the number needed to take naltrexone was 20. The effectiveness of acamprosate and naltrexone in combination with behavior interventions was observed by researchers.

“These drugs are really underused quite a bit, and our findings show that they can help thousands and thousands of people,” said lead author Dr. Daniel E. Jonas of the University of North Carolina. “They’re not blockbuster. They’re not going to work for everybody. But they can make a difference for a lot of people.”

Out of the millions of people with alcohol use disorders, less than one-third receive any treatment, and less than 10 percent receive drugs like naltrexone and acamprosate, according to a University of North Carolina press release.

“There are many studies that have tried to show whether certain medications can help with alcohol use disorders, but it is a lot of information to digest and many providers do not know what works or doesn’t work,” Dr. Jonas said. ”When you synthesize all the evidence, it shows pretty clearly that some medications do work.”

The study's findings can be found in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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