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Opioid misuse compromises effectiveness of alcohol treatments

June 11, 2018
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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An analysis of data from a comprehensive study of medication and behavioral treatments for alcohol dependence has concluded that opioid misuse and marijuana use both compromise the effectiveness of alcohol treatments.

Published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, the study involved a secondary analysis of data from the groundbreaking COMBINE study, which evaluated naltrexone, acamprosate and behavioral interventions for alcohol dependence. The analysis found that baseline opioid misuse significantly predicted the time to a first heavy drinking day and a higher probability of heavier drinking at the end of treatment and one year later.

Similar results were seen for marijuana use, the researchers reported. They found that overall, 5.7% of the patients they studied met criteria for opioid misuse, and 44.2% reported use of cannabis or other drugs without opioid misuse.

“This study provides evidence that we cannot ignore alcohol and other drug use when discussing potential impacts of the opioid epidemic,” said lead author Katie Witkiewitz of the University of New Mexico. “Individuals who misuse opioids have poorer outcomes in multiple domains, and the current study identified a much higher risk of alcohol relapse among those with opioid misuse in alcohol treatment.”



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