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Successful treatment of alcoholism found in the doctor's office

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Alcoholism can be successfully treated in primary care settings, when brief sessions with health professionals are coupled with either the drug naltrexone or specialized counseling, according to new clinical trial results published in JAMA.

The randomized, controlled trial, called "Combining Medications and Behavioral Interventions for Alcoholism," or COMBINE, is the largest ever conducted of drug and behavioral treatments for alcohol dependence. COMBINE included 1,383 subjects at 11 clinical sites across the country. Brown Medical School oversaw the largest site, enrolling 133 patients through Roger Williams Medical Center.

Robert Swift, M.D., served as principal investigator of the Roger Williams site and is an author of the JAMA report. Swift, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior and associate director of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown Medical School and associate chief of staff for research at the Providence V.A. Medical Center, has studied alcoholism and drug addiction for more than 20 years. He said the COMBINE results send a clear message to problem drinkers and the doctors who care for them.

"Medical care works and alcoholics don't need to check into a specialty treatment program to get it," Swift said. "We found that just nine 20-minute sessions with a medical professional, in conjunction with naltrexone or intensive counseling, yields good clinical results. This is a critical finding. While an estimated 8 million Americans are alcoholics, fewer than 1 million get treatment. Yet alcoholism has serious medical consequences and devastating societal effects. COMBINE shows that medical management, along with naltrexone or therapy, can significantly help people with this disease."

Richard Longabaugh, a clinical psychologist and professor of research in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, served as co-investigator at the Brow
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Contact: Wendy Lawton
Wendy_Lawton@brown.edu
401-863-1862
Brown University
2-May-2006


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