Monthly Shot Helps Alcoholics From Drinking
A new monthly injection could help keep holiday drinkers on the wagon.
David Rosenbloom, a specialist in substance abuse at Boston University School of Public Health, said for people battling alcoholism, holidays pose a strong danger of relapse.
“For some it’s the stress of being lonely, for others it’s the stress of being with people,” he said.
The pressure can be too much for some teetotalers, particularly during Christmas and New Years when social pressure and opportunities to drink are particularly high.
Many recovering alcoholics take pills containing naltrexone, a substance that reduces the desire to drink by blocking the receptors in the brain responsible for the high that drinking brings.
“During the holiday season, pressures often drive alcoholics to stop taking the tablets,“ said Sandra Lapham at the Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Now there is a new slow-release formulation of naltrexone, where the drug is injected into muscle once a month and researchers believe it could be a saving grace for recovering alcoholics who give into holiday pressures and stop taking their pills.
The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment published a small study of 28 patients who received full-dose naltrexone shots, compared with another 28 given placebos. For heavy drinkers (five or more drinks a day for men, and four for women) the shots reduced the frequency of drinking days, the number of drinks and the percentage of days classed as heavy drinking sessions.
And researchers say the drug was just as effective during the holidays as it was for the rest of the year.
Rosenbloom said the injections could be hugely significant for public health, especially during the hectic holiday season when 40 percent of road deaths over Christmas and the New Year involve at least one driver impaired by alcohol. He said he would like to see courts offer naltrexone shots to repeat drunk-driving offenders.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the naltrexone injections in 2006. However, naltrexone injections must be given with care, because they can cause abscesses if the drug is deposited into fatty tissue, Lapham warned.