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Still No Medications to Control Alcohol Dependency

Still No Medications to Control Alcohol Dependency

A new study shows no evidence of a pharmacological solution to control drinking in patients with alcohol dependence or alcohol use disorder.

Researchers specifically reviewed the benefits of nalmefene, naltrexone, acamprosate, baclofen, or topiramate.

At best, some treatments showed low to medium efficacy in reducing drinking, but those findings were from studies with a high risk of bias. None demonstrated any benefit on health outcomes.

The study appears in the journal Addiction.

For the study, researchers pooled the results from 32 double-blind randomized controlled trials representing 6,036 patients, published between 1994 and 2015. The studies compared the effects of oral nalmefene (n=9), naltrexone (n=14), acamprosate (n=1), baclofen (n=4), and topimarate (n=4) against placebo.

Many of the studies provided unreliable results due to risk of bias (potential exaggeration of the effects of the drug). Twenty-six studies (81 percent) showed an unclear or high risk of incomplete outcome data due to the large number of withdrawals.

Seventeen studies (53 percent) showed an unclear or a high risk of selective outcome reporting, as they did not include a protocol registration number, which would allow another researcher to check whether all outcomes were reported.

“Although our report is based on all available data in the public domain, we did not find clear evidence of benefit of using these drugs to control drinking. That doesn’t mean the drugs aren’t effective; it means we don’t yet know if they are effective, explains lead author Dr. Palpacuer.

He continues, “To know that, we need better studies. Researchers urgently need to provide policymakers with evidence as to which of these drugs can be effectively translated into a real harm reduction strategy.”

Source: Society for the Study of Addiction/EurekAlert

Still No Medications to Control Alcohol Dependency

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2017). Still No Medications to Control Alcohol Dependency. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/09/22/still-no-medications-to-control-alcohol-dependency/126371.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 22 Sep 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Sep 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.