Now, a monthly shot that keeps alcoholics off the booze

December 18th, 2008 - 3:04 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Dec 18 (ANI): Alcoholics, who want to abstain from alcohol during the festival season, have been given a fresh hope by a group of scientists.

They have recommended a monthly shotan injection that keeps boozers off the alcohol for one month.

Over Christmas and New Year, social pressure and opportunities to drink often make alcoholics succumb to taking a few shots of the hard stuff, and that too despite efforts to keep off from liquor.

“When you interview patients about triggers for drinking, they often say holidays and family events. For some it’’s the stress of being lonely, for others it’’s the stress of being with people,” said David Rosenbloom, a specialist in substance abuse at Boston University School of Public Health.

Many people 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. However, during the holiday season, pressures often drive alcoholics to stop taking the tablets.

“With a pill, they have to make a decision every day,” said Sandra Lapham at the Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In 2006, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a slow-release formulation of naltrexone, in which the drug is stored in microscopic spheres made of a biodegradable polymer and injected into muscle once a month.

Thus, Lapham aimed to find out if this might help people who stop taking naltrexone pills during holidays.

Thus, working with the company that manufactures the formulation - Alkermes, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts - she reanalysed data from a previous clinical trial, focusing on the drug’’s performance during 10 US holidays and celebrations.

In the small study of 28 patients, the researchers gave full-dose naltrexone shots to all the participants, compared with another 28 given placebos.

It was found that the shots reduced the frequency of drinking days, the number of drinks and the percentage of days classed as heavy drinking sessions - five or more drinks a day for men, and four for women. Crucially, the drug was just as effective during the holidays as it was for the rest of the year.

The results have impressed Rosenbloom, who described their significance for public health as “huge”.

Lapham has warned that naltrexone injections must be given with care, because they can cause abscesses if the drug is deposited into fatty tissue.

The treatment might also reduce deaths from drink driving, and Rosenbloom claimed that they would like to see courts offer naltrexone shots to repeat drink-driving offenders. (ANI)

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