Medications for alcohol use disorder
Medications for alcohol use disorder
Three medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help people cut back or stop drinking and avoid relapse: naltrexone (in two forms, oral and extended-release injection), acamprosate, and disulfiram. They are not addictive, and can be used alone, but often are used in combination with counseling.
This intervention is an important option for students who are already experiencing alcohol-related problems. Health care professionals in your campus health and counseling centers can help you identify these students, or residence hall or security staff members may bring students with alcohol-related conduct violations to your attention.
See Potential Resources for support in providing this and other interventions, or referrals when needed.
Effectiveness: Not rated by CollegeAIM
Cost: Not rated
Barriers: Not rated
Research Amount: Not rated
Public Health Reach: Not rated
Primary Modality: In-person individual, in-person group
Staffing Expertise Needed: Health professional
Target Population: Individuals
Duration of Effects: Not rated
Effectiveness ratings are based on the percentage of studies reporting any positive outcomes. Strategies with three or fewer studies did not receive an effectiveness rating due to the limited data on which to base a conclusion. Cost ratings are based on the relative program and staff costs for adoption, implementation, and maintenance of a strategy. Actual costs will vary by institution, depending on size, existing programs, and other campus and community factors. Barriers to implementing a strategy include cost and opposition, among other factors. Public health reach refers to the number of students that a strategy affects. Strategies with a broad reach affect all students or a large group of students (e.g., all underage students); strategies with a focused reach affect individuals or small groups of students (e.g., sanctioned students). Research amount/quality refers to the number of randomized controlled trials (RCT) that evaluated the strategy. Duration of effects refers to the timeframe within which the intervention demonstrated effects on alcohol-related behavioral outcomes; follow-up periods for short-term effects were <6 months; follow-up periods for long-term effects were ≥6 months.
The “Interventions delivered by health professionals” were not rated relative to other individual-level strategies in CollegeAIM because of differences in research populations, along with wide variations in costs and barriers to providing these services across campuses.
Instead, they are included in CollegeAIM based on
(1) The recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that “clinicians screen adults aged 18 years or older for alcohol misuse and provide persons engaged in risky or hazardous drinking with brief behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse” and
(2) Approval of three medications for alcohol use disorder by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
See Potential Resources for support in providing these and other interventions, or referrals when needed
Larimer, M.E.; and Cronce, J.M. Identification, prevention, and treatment: A review of individual-focused strategies to reduce problematic alcohol consumption by college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol (Suppl. 14):148–63, 2002.
- Davidson, D.; Swift, R.; Fitz, E. Naltrexone increases the latency to drink alcohol in social drinkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 20(4):732-739, 1996.
References from 2019 update
- DeMartini, K.S.; Gueorguieva, R.; Leeman, R.F.; et al. Longitudinal findings from a randomized clinical trial of naltrexone for young adult heavy drinkers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 84(2):185–190, 2016.
- O'Malley, S.S.; Corbin, W.R.; Leeman, R.F.; et al. Reduction of alcohol drinking in young adults by naltrexone: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of efficacy and safety. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry76(2):e207–e213, 2015.
NIAAA, Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help (2014)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Medication for the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder: A Brief Guide (2015)