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Study Shows that Drugs Are Effective for Alcohol Cessation, Despite Lack of Use

Study Shows that Drugs Are Effective for Alcohol Cessation, Despite Lack of Use

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) examined the efficacy of alcohol cessation drugs and determined that while they are effective, the drugs are not being prescribed regularly by health care providers. 


The study conducted an analysis of 122 randomized controlled trials and discovered that acamprosate and naltrexone—and to a lesser degree the drugs nalmefene and topiramate, drugs not yet approved by the FDA—helped people either quit drinking or cut back significantly (Shute, 2014). The studies analyzed specifically examined men and women who were unable to cut back on alcohol consumption, and other problem drinking behaviors. 


However, Dr. Daniel Jonas, the lead author of the study, stated that these helpful drugs are prescribed less than 10 percent of the time. According to Dr. Jonas, “It’s been quite a bit of a secret . . . it doesn’t get advertised” (Shute, 2014). Dr. Jonas stated that there are varying reasons why the drugs are not being used, such as the following:


  • Primary care physicians might not be comfortable dealing with alcohol use disorders, and may just refer patients to behavioral health treatment. 
  • Most people do not get treatment for serious drinking problems. 
  • Doctors aren’t aware of any alcohol cessation drugs besides Antabuse.


As all of the people examined in the studies were also undergoing behavioral therapy, it remains to be seen whether the drug alone is enough to help people lessen their problem drinking. 


The study can be viewed by clicking here



Shute, N. (2014). Meds can help problem drinkers, but many doctors don’t know that. Retrieved from www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/05/13/312152578/meds-can-help-problem-drinkers-but-many-doctors-dont-know-that