An analysis of studies that evaluated two medications used to treat alcoholism concludes they are a good first option for people who want treatment but wish to avoid an inpatient program.
The analysis looked at acamprosate (Campral) and naltrexone (ReVia), Reuters reports. The medications may be helpful for people in different stages of recovery, because they have different effects on the brain, the researchers report in the journal Addiction.
The researchers looked at 64 trials of the two drugs, which included a total of 11,000 people. They found acamprosate was better at helping people who were not current drinkers stay sober, while naltrexone was more effective in helping people cut back on heavy drinking and avoid cravings.
Both drugs were more effective when used after participants had not been drinking for at least a few days before starting treatment, or had been through a detox program, the article noted.
Lead researcher Natalya Maisel from the VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Menlo Park, California, found that eight people dependent on alcohol would need to be treated with acamprosate in order for one additional person to quit drinking. Nine people would need to take naltrexone in order to keep one from starting to drink heavily again.