For over a hundred years, addiction has been largely of an unknown nature. People were aware that substances could form addictions, but for the longest time, it was considered, even in the psychology community, to be evidence of everything from personal failures to make consistently good judgments to simply being a psychopath. Even the earliest known widespread attempt to ‘cure’ one of humanity’s oldest addictions, alcohol, infuses morality and spirituality as prime sources of how it attempts to help those who come seeking it. Alcoholic Anonymous’ 12 step program, which has inspired many other programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, attempts to replace a deity-like figure to obey  and concentrate on instead of obeying the impulse to use a substance.

As time marches on, medical research and scientific studies continue to discover more and more that the idea of moral failings being the prime reason for addiction is a silly idea in itself based on evidence and have identified and produced several medicines that directly have an affect on drug use effects and cravings. One of these recently developed drugs, oral naltrexone, targets alcohol use disorders.

However, reports of side effects coming out of Britain had put the drug in a holding pattern in the medical community there. Researchers went to work studying the drug closer to find out what risks were associated with it and weigh them out with the effects they can achieve with alcoholics attempting to get sober.

The studies from the University of Manchester and the University of Brighton in England, however, recently reported they have found ‘no evidence the drug’s increased risk of serious adverse events and urged policymakers to review the research in the hope that it will increase its use in treating patients with alcohol addiction.’ Published in BMC Medicine, the study analyzed control trials of the drug at all dosage levels lasting longer than four weeks between January 2001 and May 2018, excluding ex-opioid users to ‘avoid possible opioid/opioid antagonist interactions’.

89 randomized control trials with 11,194 participants were examined, mainly with alcohol use disorders, various psychiatric disorders, impulse control disorders and other addictions including obesity, smoking and eating disorders. In twenty-six studies [4,096]participants recorded serious adverse events. Based on their findings, the study reported the absence of evidence that shows an increased risk of serious adverse events. Upon a second level analysis, there were six marginally significant adverse events which were considered of ‘mild severity.’

Discovery InstituteThe American Psychiatric Association, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Veterans Affairs/DOD’s most recent published guidelines for the treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD) all recommended the use of the drug in Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) of alcoholism. The studies from the British Universities shed further light on the nature of adverse effects while still reinforcing the positive effects the drug can offer to patients looking for treatment of their alcoholism.

Addiction is a serious illness that affects over 20 million Americans. If you or someone you know is in search of addiction treatment in NJ, call Discovery Institute at 844-478-6563. Discover is one of the top rated drug rehab centers and promotes sober living in New Jersey.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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