A new study by addiction experts at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that patients who suffer from both depression and alcohol dependence benefitted more from a medication combination of an antidepressant, sertraline, and naltrexone, an FDA-approved treatment for heavy drinking, compared to either medication alone or placebo. During a 14-week treatment trial, the medication combination produced high abstinence rates as well as reduction in depressive symptoms.
The finding signals an important advance in the treatment of depressed patients with alcohol dependence; the co-occurrence of these disorders is common in clinical practice, yet antidepressants alone are frequently not sufficient for reducing excessive drinking in these patients.
When depression and alcohol disorders occur together, each of the individual disorders often worsens the other, and patients lose hope for recovery. Combining sertraline and naltrexone could be a practical approach for these patients because both are FDA approved and currently available.
The study was conducted by Helen M. Pettinati, PhD, David W. Oslin, MD, Kyle M. Kampman, MD, William D. Dundon, PhD, Hu Xie, MS, Thea L. Gallis, BA, Charles A. Dackis, MD, Charles P. O’Brien, MD, PhD, from the Center for the Studies of Addiction, in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and Pfizer Inc. U.S. Pharmaceuticals Group, who donated sertraline and matching placebo. These agencies had no role in the design, conduct, or reporting of this study.
The study is available online from the American Journal of Psychiatry.
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