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Are Naltrexone Injections a Cure for Holiday Drinking?

December 30, 2008 09:01 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
A new study suggests slow-release naltrexone injections can curb excessive holiday drinking, and could help alcoholics take control over their consumption. 

Naltrexone Usage Evolves

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According to an article in Time magazine, daily naltrexone pills have been shown to effectively “curb the urge to drink and reduce the amount consumed if drinkers do give into the craving,” but the daily commitment has been too difficult for some alcoholics to maintain. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration responded by approving injected doses of reformulated naltrexone, which dissolves slowly over the course of one month.

Dr. Sandra Lapham took the issue a step further, using data from previous naltrexone studies to determine the drug’s effectiveness in shot-form during ten different American holidays. Patients who received shots of the drug consumed fewer drinks and drank less often than patients given a placebo.

According to New Scientist, “during the holiday season, pressures often drive alcoholics to stop taking the tablets,” which makes one-time injections more effective, so long as they are “given with care,” Lapham told New Scientist. Boston University substance abuse specialist David Rosenbloom was so impressed with the study that he said he’d encourage naltrexone shots for repeat drunk drivers, reported New Scientist.

But naltrexone is not a guaranteed fix for every person struggling with alcoholism. An article published in The Washington Times in October illuminated the complexity of factors contributing to addiction. Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science told newspaper, “you have to think about a precise person when you think about an addicted individual.”

Background: Holiday drinking

Accidents caused by drunk driving spike during the holidays, according to an Associated Press article published in The Boston Globe. Furthermore, “a large percentage” of accidents are caused by young drivers who are just over the legal drinking age, government officials told the AP.

Excessive holiday drinking can be caused by any number of factors, such as an abundance of holiday parties, reports the Brattleboro Reformer. The Vermont newspaper outlines dangerous holiday risk factors that can result in substance abuse, and offers advice for safe holiday alternatives to drugs and alcohol.

Reference: Alcoholism resources on the Web

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