Naltrexone (Wtf, scientists?)

Treatment for Alcohol Dependence Successful Only in Certain Population Groups

Results from a new study suggest that one of the most prescribed medications for alcohol dependence may be more effective in some people. Preliminary results show that naltrexone (Revia), one of the only medications approved for treating people with alcohol abuse problems, may only be effective in women and those with a specific genetic variation. The new study, conducted by researchers from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) and McGill University, will be published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Previous work suggested that naltrexone only helped some people with alcohol problems, but the reason for that was unclear. ”Our results suggest that we might now be able to predict beforehand who will benefit most,” says Dr. Marco Leyton, lead investigator of the study and a researcher in the Mental Illnesses and Addiction axis at the RI MUHC. ”We were quite excited to find that our results supported that naltrexone was specifically effective in women and in people who carried a gene related to the brain’s natural morphine system called the mu opioid receptor gene (OPRM1).”

  • SoberPJ

    In this study, researchers followed a small group of “social drinkers” in an effort to validate some very preliminary hints that the efficacy of the treatment might be related to gender and a particular gene that may be inherited. These findings could help ensure that we give the right medication to the right people,” says Dr. Leyton, who is also an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill.

    Unfortunately, the research is kinda shaky. Small goup…social drinkers…preliminary hints … might be related ..could help ensure .. It’s a start, but it doesn’t mention the Sinclair Method which does have a higher success rate than Naltrxone taken once in the morning or injected…

  • I should have included that “social drinkers” part in the quote I pulled.

    I wonder how they could make any judgments about efficacy in treating dependence if they are studying people who are not dependent. Am I reading that right?

  • SoberPJ

    It’s does not appear to be a good study. How do you draw any decent conclusions about substance abuse from a small group of social drinkers? It is probably part of a plea for money and it gives the university some press and the main researcher some quote time.

  • Poofter! AKA True Believer

    Is there such a thing as pseudo science? It sounds to me like this article is based on pseudo science, the same way that AA is a pseudo religion.

    • There, I updated the title to reflect the seeming uselessness of this study.

  • chris

    my cousin, who is male, took revia. he said it helped. but, they told him thats what it was for. placebo effect maybe. hes drinking like a fish again, he said he couldnt afford to take it anymore. haha, he can afford drinking though somehow.

  • AA will dismiss this study and may even use it to further segment thier target market into the two groups of “Alcoholics” and “Real Alcoholics”. The study is accurately reported because it gives indications of the sample size, sample selection and data collected.

    When studying a target market you have to look at all levels of use by the market being studied. This is actually a good study when you think about it.

    1. They are studying the effectiveness of Naltrexone on “social drinkers”.
    2. They are looking for alternatives to AA for “social drinkers”.
    3. They are looking for links to genetics and gender to Alcoholism for “social drinkers”.

    This study will probably be used as a control group for further study of the different levels of Alcoholism and the effectiveness of Naltrexone. At least they are studying alternatives to Alcoholism instead of just sending everyone to AA.

    I think this is an important study because it starts people thinking about alternatives to AA. The next logical studies are “moderate drinkers” and “heavy drinkers”. Good work, keep the studies up.

  • But JRH, What doesn’t make sense here is that “social drinkers” are not people who would be considered dependent or addicted. There is nothing about the designation that implies craving or loss of control by any stretch. These are people who drink moderately. Why test a drug that is supposed to minimize craving on people who don’t experience craving?

  • AA Escapee

    JRH, as I read you it’s great that they are looking for other ways to treat the condition from a scientific perspective and that message alone is good news.

    As to AA, I don’t think this study or even stronger studies will make a dent in their belief systems, much like any other cult sticks to its beliefs feeling threatened and thus defensive and even MORE entrenched in their beliefs (as they are heavily invested in their beliefs).

    I think studies like this give real hope and validation to those with drinking problems who have gone to AA and found it to be seriously lacking (like me).

  • When you think about it, many people are sent or coerced into joining AA. We often discuss here the side effects that a “social drinker” as well as the “heavy drinker (aka “Real” Alcoholic) will encounter because of the policies of AA. What this study is doing is segmenting thier search for alternatives to AA. AA membership is comprised of a group of people somewhere between “social drinker” and “heavy drinker”.

    Haven’t we studied the effectiveness and side effects of AA on the “social drinker” at times on this blog? Remember that once you sent foot in the rooms of AA you become an Alcoholic, because you are coerced into telling everyone that you are and believing it yourself. What happens to the “social drinker” who believes they are an Alcoholic who tries to leave AA and tries Naltexone?

    This is off the Naltrexone subject, but it would be nice to know the following:

    In the aggregate group commonly referred to as AA:

    1. What percentage of subjects are “social drinkers” vs “heavy drinkers”?
    2. What percentage of subjects are “Alcoholics” vs. “Real Alcoholics”
    3. What do people who belong to AA rate these percentages at?
    4. What do people who do not belong to AA rate these percentage at?
    5. Of the two groups rating the population in AA, what do they think is the solution to Alcoholism for the group as a whole?

    AA has been called a “one size fits all” solution. This study is seeing if Naltrexone is a “one size fits all” solution for “social drinkers”. Wouldn’t it be nice if AA did the same kind of study?

  • When I try to provide alternatives, I include the bits on the right of the page. SMART, RR and the SCM seem to have helped people on this site. I have not tried any. Nothing could be worse than the cult. The cult causes damage, not good.

  • Obviously, alternatives to the cult would be Children of God, Scientology and the Moonies. I mean possible help for people with substance abuse.

  • AndyM

    To my mind, one of the big problems with aa is that the subject of what is a desirable outcome in treating an alcohol problem is never even addressed. It is preempted with the assumption that total abstinence is the only realistic outcome for any and all “alcoholics”, irrespective of the nature of their past problems and drinking patterns. Everyone from the graveyard meths drinker to the little old lady who occasionally has one extra glass of sherry is told they are in the right place and jails, institutions and death are “yets” for them. This same unexamined assumption taints much of the field of alcohol dependence treatment by extension. AA not only dismisses the idea that “better is better” out of hand, it even dismisses the idea that “normal is normal”. The Sinclair method, if I understand it rightly, has as one of its aims the option for some people whose past drinking has been problematic to become normal social drinkers. This is outright heresy to those who have adopted the aa mindset.