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Using naltrexone to treat alcoholics with a 'Mediterranean drinking pattern'

  • Naltrexone has been used to treat alcoholism in the United States for close to a decade.
  • Initial studies of naltrexone's effectiveness examined alcohol-dependent individuals who drank primarily on holidays and weekends.
  • Researchers in Spain examined naltrexone's effectiveness on alcohol-dependent individuals who drank throughout the week.
  • Fewer naltrexone-treated subjects relapsed to heavy drinking than placebo-treated subjects.

Naltrexone is a medication that has been used in the United States for the treatment of alcoholism since its 1994 approval by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Many of the original studies of naltrexone's effectiveness, however, examined alcohol-dependent patients with an "Anglo-Saxon" or "Scandinavian drinking pattern," that is, greater drinking on holidays and weekends. Conversely, individuals with a "Mediterranean drinking pattern" tend to regularly consume alcohol during the week, particularly with meals. A study in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research is among the first to examine the effectiveness and safety of naltrexone for the treatment of alcoholism among Spanish patients with a Mediterranean drinking pattern.

"Years ago," said Jos Guardia, a consultant at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona, Spain and lead author of the study, "there was a clear difference between drinking patterns in the northern and southern countries of Europe. The Anglo-Saxon/Scandinavian tendency was to drink more on holidays and weekends. In France, Italy, Spain and other Mediterranean countries, wine was usually consumed with meals. However, when everyday consumption becomes heavy, and after a long period of time, severe withdrawal and organic consequences of chronic alcohol toxicity are probable. We wanted to see if there would be differences in using naltrexone for the treatment of alcohol dependency in this population."

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16-Sep-2002


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