Therapeutic use of naltrexone in alcohol use disorder and gambling disorder.

Wednesday, 23 November, 2022 - 09:00 to 19:30
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Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that occupies µ receptors in the brain. Its antagonistic effect works on both exogenous and endogenous opioids, thus allowing it to be used in addiction disorders that do not involve direct opioid consumption. In this work, we focus on alcohol use disorder and gambling disorder.

For this work, two groups of patients were selected from the CRI of Braga – one set of patients with alcohol use disorder and another with gambling disorder. Both groups were being treated with naltrexone. The therapeutic effect of this drug was then evaluated to check if a reduction (or ideally suspension) of alcohol consumption or gambling behaviors was achieved.

In both groups, naltrexone demonstrated a positive effect in the reduction of addictive behaviors. For the set with alcohol use disorder, 43% of patients reduced the amount of alcohol intaken and 33% suspended consumption altogether. For the set with gambling disorder, 67% of patients reduced the quantity of addictive behavior and 33% achieved complete suspension.

These results are in line with existing data in the current Literature. For alcohol use disorder, a wide analysis of existing studies finds a modest but consistent effect of naltrexone therapy in the improvement of several clinical outcomes regarding addiction. Less data exists for gambling disorder, albeit two large meta-analyses have reported a positive therapeutic effect in their findings as well. Naltrexone surely has potential, however more studies are needed in order to cement its promising results, particularly in gambling disorder and other 'behavioral addictions', where information is scarcer.



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