Naltrexone can help with binge drinking, study finds

(NewsNation) — A recent study shows that a medication that helps people dealing with a severe alcohol use disorder can also benefit those who binge drink.

Naltrexone, the medication, is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat Opioid Use Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder. It blocks endorphins, in turn reducing the euphoric feeling people get while drinking.

For the study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and first reported on in The New York Times, researchers examined 120 men. Study participants included those who wanted to reduce their binging, but were not severely dependent on alcohol, according to The New York Times.

The study focused on gay and transgender men.

These men were given naltrexone whenever they craved liquor or anticipated a period of heavy drinking, the newspaper said.

Binge drinking, as defined by the authors of the study, is “five or more drinks on one occasion” for men. For women, the Centers for Disease Control said four or more drinks is typically considered binging.

The trial was “double-blinded,” meaning half of the participants were given naltrexone and half were given a placebo, and neither the participants, according to the Times, nor the scientists knew who received the fake pill.

In addition, the men were given counseling.

Researchers found at the end of the study, which was 12 weeks long, that naltrexone was associated with a “significantly reduced” reported number of binge drinking days and weeks. Those who took the naltrexone, instead of the placebo, also had lower alcohol craving scores.

In intention-to-treat analyses, naltrexone was associated with a significantly reduced reported number of binge-drinking days. These effects lasted six months after the study, according to researchers.

“Naltrexone may be an important pharmacotherapy to address binge drinking in populations with mild to moderate alcohol use disorder,” the study’s authors said.


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