I Get No Kick from CH3CH2OH; April 1995; Scientific American Magazine; by Nemecek; 2 Page(s)
The more than one million alcoholics in this country who seek treatment every year have a new alternative. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved naltrexone as a medication for alcoholism; the drug is the first allowed for this purpose since the original medication for alcoholism, Antabuse, was introduced in 1948. The FDA's action reflects a growing belief that substance abuse has a strong biological component and is not merely a character flaw. Yet experts emphasize that the drug will not obviate the need for conventional forms of therapy, such as counseling.
Two recent studies, carried out at the University of Pennsylvania and at Yale University, demonstrated the effectiveness of naltrexone--which was approved for the treatment of opiate addiction in 1984--in the rehabilitation of alcoholics. In one study of 70 patients, 23 percent of those given naltrexone relapsed during the three-month-long study, whereas 54 percent of placebo recipients resumed drinking. Joseph R. Volpicelli, who led the team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, attributes the success of naltrexone to its ability to reduce the euphoria of alcohol and dampen the craving for another drink