This taken from the following link http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/health/article.jsp?content=20060529_163051_5376 :
Drug aids treatment of alcoholism
Naltrexone reduces cravings but may be difficult to obtain in Canada
A recent study shows brief visits to the family doctor, combined with a medication that reduces cravings, can successfully combat alcoholism -- but an addiction specialist says Canadians may have difficulty accessing this treatment.
Although the drug naltrexone (brand name Revia) has been approved here since 1996, provincial formularies will not pay for it, says Dr. Peter Celby, clinical director of addiction programs at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.
"(Doctors) have to make a special application that then gets reviewed by some bureaucrat who will then either agree or not agree to pay for the medication based on a very arbitrary decision-making process." Problematically, he adds, naltrexone is simply not a very well known drug in Canada. "When it was launched ... there wasn't enough marketing done for physicians to get up to speed with it and know more about it."
In a study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a research group led by Dr. Raymond Anton of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston evaluated several treatments for alcoholism in nearly 1,400 volunteers who had recently stopped drinking.
The treatments involved various combinations of the drugs naltrexone and acamprosate (which is not approved in Canada) along with two forms of counselling: 50-minute sessions of "combined behavioural intervention" involving talk therapy, a 12-step program and other forms of support delivered by alcohol-treatment specialists; or 20-minute "medical management" sessions in which a family doctor or other health-care professional provided brief counselling and dispensed medication.
After 16 weeks, participants who received the medical management and naltrexone did about as well as those who took part in the more elaborate combined behavioural intervention, abstaining from alcohol on about eight out of every 10 days. Those who received medical management and inactive pills did not do quite as well, abstaining from alcohol on 7.5 out of very 10 days. The other drug, acamprosate, showed no better effect on drinking than inactive pills. "The study is great in the sense that it's saying you don't have to go into an addiction treatment facility and get locked down for 28 days," Celby says. "You can actually do this as an outpatient in a doctor's office."
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