Fears that use of a medication to treat alcohol dependence could discourage patient participation in therapy or support groups appear to be dispelled in a study just published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. The research shows little difference in counseling and support group participation between individuals receiving the medication Vivitrol and those receiving a placebo.
Study authors suggest that the results indicate a compatibility between counseling and sustained pharmacotherapy, a view that could help to counteract some lingering notions in the field that medication use can create barriers to recovery. The study results are published in the journal’s September 2010 issue.
The study involved more than 600 patients randomized to receive six monthly injections of either 380 mg of Vivitrol (the injectable form of naltrexone), 190 mg of Vivitrol, or placebo. The patients also were offered 12 sessions of a standardized, low-intensity psychosocial intervention. A slightly greater percentage of patients in the Vivitrol groups attended all of the therapy sessions than was the case in the placebo group.
In addition, participation rates were comparable among the groups in engagement in any psychosocial therapy, as well as in attending self-help support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Also, membership in the higher-dose Vivitrol group was associated with improved drinking outcomes.
“These data provide the first systematic assessment of the impact of pharmacotherapy on participation in psychosocial therapy,” the researchers wrote.
In another development regarding Vivitrol, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee was scheduled to meet Sept. 16 to discuss data regarding a supplemental new drug application for the medication’s use to treat opioid dependence. Vivitrol’s indication for alcohol dependence was approved in 2006, and the FDA is proceeding on an accelerated timeline for reviewing the medication as a possible opioid dependence treatment.