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Might Opioid Use Disorder Drugs Help Reduce Acute Alcohol-Related Events?

Buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone are all drugs used to treat those addicted to opioids.  Each helps relieve the opioid cravings so common during recovery while in some cases also helping reduce the painful symptoms of withdrawal.

In a paper just published in JAMA Network Open, researchers discovered something else about these drugs.

They help reduce what are called alcohol-related acute events in these same patients while also reducing alcohol-related hospital admissions.

This new data seems to support using these drugs for patients with co-occurring opioid use and alcohol use disorder.

This study's findings are based on a case-control cohort study of individuals 12-64 years of age and living in the U.S. with a diagnosis of opioid use disorder. Researchers used prescription claims extracted from the IBM MarketScan Insurance databases between 2006 and 2016 to draw their conclusions.

According to site Psychiatric Advisory:

"The final study cohort comprised 13,335 unique patients with OUD (opioid use disorder), among whom 44.1% were women. Mean age at index date was 33.1 ± 13.1 years and mean observation time was 627.6 days per patient.

In total, 19.6% of patients had claims for more than 1 acute alcohol-related event. The distribution of patients by OUD treatment was as follows: 6299 (47.2%) received buprenorphine in the year before and after the index event; 24.3% received oral naltrexone; 1096 (8.2%) received extended-release naltrexone; and 667 (5.0%) received methadone. In regression models, buprenorphine (odds ratio [OR], 0.57; 95% CI, 0.52-0.61) and methadone (OR, 0.34; 95% CI, 0.26-0.45) were each associated with substantially reduced risk for alcohol-related acute events.

Treatment with naltrexone was also associated with reduced risk for hospitalization compared with non-treatment, with a 37% reduction for extended-release naltrexone (OR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.52-0.76) and a 16% reduction for oral naltrexone (OR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.76-0.93). The impact of naltrexone on alcohol-related acute events was more pronounced in patients with recent AUD claims compared to patients without recent AUD claims."

 While this study was limited in scope, it seems to suggest that using these drugs for those with co-occurring addictions may have benefits.

If you're struggling with an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs during this endless pandemic and need help in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, Southern Maine, and soon Indiana, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help.  Our unique model of care is giving clients a significantly better chance of recovery when compared to traditional inpatient rehab care.  To learn more, please contact one of our Recovery Specialists.

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