Naltrexone, approved by the Food and Drug Administration as treatment for alcohol dependence, may be especially effective in people of Asian descent, a new study suggests.
Recent research has found about 50 percent of people of Asian descent have a genetic mutation that makes them likely to benefit from naltrexone, compared with about 20 percent of Caucasians, and less than 5 percent of African Americans.
The study tested the effectiveness of naltrexone compared with a placebo medication in 35 heavy drinkers of Asian descent, according to Medical News Today. In two sessions, they received an infusion of ethanol that was the equivalent of two to three standard alcoholic drinks. In one session, they first took naltrexone; in the second session, they took a sugar pill.
The researchers found naltrexone reduced the positive feelings of alcohol intoxication among participants with the genetic mutation, but not among those without it. Those with the mutation reported having more sedated and unpleasant feelings of intoxication after taking naltrexone compared with the placebo. They also had less craving for alcohol after taking naltrexone.
The results are published online in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.