Effectiveness Bank bulletin 25 July 2013

Spotlight on naltrexone and acamprosate, the two major anti-relapse medications for alcohol dependence treatment, digging deeper in to who they work for and who they may hinder. In respect of acamprosate it seems women respond as well as men. Women too are the focus for an assessment of the value of on-site parenting support. Last, away from treatment to prevention and whether two targets (sex and drugs) can be hit with one programme.

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Largest US study yet favours naltrexone as alcoholism medication
Reanalyses of major US study confirmed that either naltrexone or psychological therapy improved outcomes more than medical care and placebos, while the two in combination or acamprosate added little. They also revealed previously invisible benefits and some hidden negatives, including a suggestion that acamprosate is counterproductive for the most needy but also most motivated alcoholics.

Acamprosate as effective for alcohol-dependent women as for men
First comprehensive analysis of whether acamprosate treatment works as well for alcohol-dependent women as for men definitively concludes that across 22 mainly European trials it had a virtually identical impact. The analysis also offers an updated and extended assessment of the drug's overall impact, finding that it helps prevent heavy drinking as well as fostering abstinence.

Integrating parenting support with treatment helps mums help the children
First systematic review of whether integrating parenting support with treatment improves the parenting of problem substance using mothers found remarkably few quality studies, but enough to suggest that such programmes can improve the prospects of often highly at-risk children.

The same prevention programme can affect both sexual and substance use risks
Different youth 'problem' behaviours overlap and share common causes, so it should make sense to implement programmes which affect several at once. That was the thesis of this Scottish review, which looked at studies reporting on both substance use and risky or underage sex. The literature was scarce but did give some reasons for optimism.

Sent by the Drug and Alcohol Findings Effectiveness Bank to alert you to site updates and UK-relevant evaluations and reviews of drug/alcohol interventions. Managed by DrugScope, Alcohol Concern and the National Addiction Centre. Supported by Alcohol Research UK and the J. Paul Getty Jr. Charitable Trust.