Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2007 Apr;31(4):625-34
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Despite important gender differences in drinking patterns, physiological effects of alcohol, and co-occurring psychiatric conditions, relatively little is known about the efficacy of naltrexone for the treatment of alcohol dependence in women.
This study investigated the safety and efficacy of naltrexone in combination with Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Therapy (CBCST) in a sample of alcohol-dependent women, some with comorbid eating pathology.
One hundred three women meeting DSM-IV criteria for alcohol dependence (29 with comorbid eating disturbances) were randomized to receive either naltrexone 50 mg or placebo for 12 weeks in addition to weekly group CBCST. Subjects were enrolled between October 1995 and December 2000 at an outpatient research clinic.
No significant differences were observed on the primary outcomes of time to first drinking day, time to first day of heavy drinking, or the percentage of participants who continued to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence.
Secondary analyses revealed that naltrexone significantly delayed the time to the second (chi(2)=5.37, p=0.02) and third (chi(2)=4.35, p=0.04) drinking days among subjects who did not maintain abstinence from alcohol.
Among those with eating disturbances, symptoms of eating pathology improved during treatment, but the effects did not differ according to medication condition.
When used in conjunction with CBCST, naltrexone did not significantly improve drinking outcomes in the overall sample of alcohol-dependent women.
However, naltrexone may be of benefit to women who are unable to maintain total abstinence from alcohol.
For women with concurrent eating pathology, participation in treatment for alcoholism may be associated with improvements in eating pathology.