Two anti-addiction medications are better than one for people who abuse both cocaine and alcohol, according to a new NIDA-funded study. Researchers randomly assigned 208 men and women to one of four protocols for an 11-week trial: disulfiram and naltrexone; disulfiram with placebo; naltrexone with placebo; or a double placebo. Among the dual-medication participants, 35 percent attained 3 consecutive weeks of abstinence from both cocaine and alcohol, compared with 17 percent of those taking either naltrexone or disulfiram and 15 percent of those receiving the double placebo, report Drs. Helen Pettinati, Kyle Kampman, Charles O'Brien, and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania.
The patients who attained 3 weeks of abstinence during treatment had double the rates of abstinence at a 6-month followup than those who did not attain that standard. The combination treatment may meet a widespread need; an estimated 50 percent of cocaine abusers are also addicted to alcohol.
Addictive Behaviors 33(5):651-667, 2008. [Abstract]