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Antagonist models for treating persons with substance use disorders

Author(s): Woody GE


This paper provides an overview on the status of antagonist models for treating patients with substance use disorders. It begins with an overview describing the ambivalence about stopping or not stopping substance use and how antagonist approaches, combined with psychosocial treatment, are aimed to address it. It then goes on to review data on disulfiram and acamprosate treatment of alcohol dependence and naltrexone treatment of opioid and alcohol dependence. The superior results achieved by extended release formulations are emphasized. The mixed findings on naltrexone treatment for amphetamine dependence are presented and the chapter ends with a brief review of vaccine development for treatment of substance use disorders. Overall conclusions are that the strongest treatment effects are with extended release naltrexone with opioid dependence. Disulfiram treatment of alcohol dependence also has strong effects but is not widely used due to low levels of patient acceptance and concerns about its potential for serious adverse events. Less robust but clinically meaningful effects are seen with naltrexone or acamprosate treatment of alcohol dependence. Vaccines are a very interesting and promising new development but many challenges and hurdles must be overcome before they are ready for clinical use.

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