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Naltrexone and Disulfiram in Patients with Alcohol Dependence and Comorbid Psychiatric Disorders

      Background

      Disulfiram and naltrexone are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of alcoholism, but these agents have not been rigorously evaluated in dually diagnosed individuals.

      Method

      Two-hundred and fifty-four patients with an Axis I psychiatric disorder and comorbid alcohol dependence were treated for 12 weeks in an outpatient medication study conducted at three Veterans Administration outpatient clinics. Randomization included assignment to one of four groups: 1) naltrexone alone; 2) placebo alone; 3) (open-label) disulfiram and (blinded) naltrexone; or 4) (open-label) disulfiram and (blinded) placebo. Medication compliance was evaluated using the Microelectric Events Monitoring System. Primary outcomes were measures of alcohol use. Secondary outcomes included psychiatric symptoms, alcohol craving, g-GGT levels and adverse events.

      Results

      There was a high rate of abstinence across groups. Subjects treated with an active medication had significantly more consecutive weeks of abstinence and less craving than those treated with placebo, but there were no significant group differences in other measures of alcohol consumption. There was no advantage of the combination of both medications.

      Conclusions

      These data suggest a modest advantage for the use of disulfiram and naltrexone for this group of dually diagnosed alcohol-dependent individuals but did not suggest an advantage in the combination.

      Key words

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