A group of researchers from California found acamprosate (marketed as Campral) and naltrexone (ReVia) as good first option for treating people with alcohol problems.
The two drugs are commonly used in treating alcoholism, are both non-addictive, and won’t make patients get sick when mixed with alcohol, says a Reuters report.
Natalya Maisel from the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Menlo Park, California, and her colleagues reviewed 64 trials which involved about 11,000 participants who were asked to take one of the drugs or a placebo pill. They found acamprosate to be more effective at helping people who were not currently drinking stay sober, while naltrexone is useful in cutting back heavy drinking and helping recovering alcoholics avoid cravings.
The researchers said both drugs work better when the subjects had stay away from alcohol for at least a few days before starting the drug trials, or had been through a detox program.
Acamprosate is known to calm brain activity, thus help stabilize brain that could get disrupted when an alcoholic stops drinking. Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist that works on the brain’s reward and reinforcement system.
The new findings make sense for Dr. Raymond Anton, head of the Center for Drug & Alcohol Programs at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, who wasn’t involved in the study. He agrees that both drugs can be useful as “first step” in addressing problem drinking when paired with therapy, particularly for people who are reluctant in seeking treatment due to time and money constraints.