May 3, 2006
CONTACT: Kate Olderman
Researchers Identify Most Effective Current Treatments
for Alcohol Dependence
(Philadelphia, PA) - According to a study that appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and 10 other sites found that the medication naltrexone, when delivered with structured medical management, or specialized alcohol counseling by a behavioral specialist are equally effective treatments for alcohol dependence.
Results from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported study - "Combining Medications and Behavioral Interventions for Alcoholism" (COMBINE) - show that patients who received naltrexone, specialized alcohol counseling, or both demonstrated the best drinking outcomes after 16 weeks of outpatient treatment. All patients also received Medical Management (MM), an intervention consisting of nine brief, structured outpatient sessions provided by a medical health care professional. Contrary to expectations, the researchers also found that the medication acamprosate had no effect on drinking and showed no benefit in combination with naltrexone.
"We are thrilled to have data from the largest government-sponsored pharmacotherapy study of alcohol dependence that has been done to-date that show how a medically-oriented treatment approach can be effective in treating alcohol disorders," said Dr. Helen M. Pettinati, Principal Investigator at Penn, and Professor and Division Director of Penn's Treatment Research Center (TRC).
"Alcoholism is a serious disease that destroys lives,” says Pettinati. “These findings indicate that alcoholism can be treated in a medical setting, giving more people who struggle with an alcohol problem an alternative way to get treatment.”
About the Treatment Research Center
PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is consistently ranked one of the nation's few "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.