What is the efficacy of opioid antagonists in the treatment of alcohol dependence?

Updated: Nov 27, 2018
  • Author: Warren Thompson, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

The 2010 Cochrane review on opioid antagonists for alcohol dependence included 50 studies with 7793 participants. [50] In most studies, treatment was provided over 3 months. The review showed that more patients who took naltrexone were able to reduce the amount and frequency of drinking compared with patients who took placebo. On average, 1 in 9 patients were helped by naltrexone. For injectable formulations of naltrexone, which can be advantageous for patients who have problems with taking their medication on schedule, and for the second opioid antagonist (nalmefene), the evidence was too limited to allow final conclusions. Nevertheless, available studies indicated that these drugs might have effects on drinking comparable to oral naltrexone.


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