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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown: Naltrexone Does Not Improve Smoking Cessation Outcomes for Heavy Drinking Smokers

Naltrexone, a mediation used to reduce alcohol use, is not effective in improving smoking cessation rates or reducing drinking in heavy drinking smokers seeking smoking cessation treatment, according to a new study led by Dr. Christopher Kahler, professor of behavioral and social sciences at the Brown University School of Public Health.

[Photo: Dr. Christopher Kahler]

Alcohol use is positively associated with smoking initiation and escalation to regular cigarette use, and is among the most common smoking relapse precipitants. In the past, smoking cessation interventions that have incorporated counseling to reduce drinking have shown some success. An intriguing possibility for enhancing the effectiveness of such interventions is adding pharmacotherapies that impact alcohol use, such as naltrexone.

In this study, the researchers recruited heavy drinking smokers from the community and randomized them to receive 10 weeks of either naltrexone or a placebo. All participants also received 6 weeks of the patch and 6 weeks of counselling that addressed both heavy drinking and smoking.

At follow-up, there were substantial reductions in the number of heavy drinking days and drinks per week in both medication conditions. However, participants receiving naltrexone did not differ from the placebo group on heavy drinking days, drinks per week, or smoking abstinence rates.

The results of this study, published in Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research, indicate that a smoking cessation intervention that includes counseling on alcohol use can have positive effects for heavy drinking smokers. However, this study provided no evidence that naltrexone is effective for enhancing reductions in drinking or improving smoking cessation in this population.