Two drugs may be helpful as a “first step” for recovery alcoholics, a new study has found. California researchers studied the effects of acamprosate (Campral) and naltrexone (ReVia) drugs in 64 trials. Their analysis revealed that acamprosate was effective at helping people who were not drinking stay sober, while naltrexone was good at helping reduce alcohol cravings and helping heavy drinkers cut back. Clinical experts said that acamprosate helps calm and stabilize a brain that is agitated by trying to break the drinking habit, while naltrexone can block the pleasure-reward circuit and stop “a slip from becoming a relapse.” Both drugs worked better if patients had stopped drinking for a few days and been through a detox program already.
The analysis may be good news for people who want to do inpatient rehab instead of 30-day treatment. Dr. Raymond Anton, head of the Center for Drug & Alcohol Programs at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, told Reuters Health that the drugs, combined with therapy, can be a useful “first step” on the road to recovery: “People should realize that there are alternative treatments that are useful for them while they continue in their normal work and family.”