Longitudinal findings from a randomized clinical trial of naltrexone for young adult heavy drinkers

Kelly S. DeMartini, Ralitza Gueorguieva, Robert F. Leeman, William Corbin, Lisa M. Fucito, Henry R. Kranzler, Stephanie S. O'Malley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Objective: Behavioral interventions for young adults show limited effects 1-year posttreatment. Few studies have examined the longitudinal outcomes of pharmacotherapy trials to reduce heavy drinking. This study examined the posttreatment, longitudinal effects of the first placebo-controlled trial of naltrexone in young adult heavy drinkers. Method: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, 8-week trial. Follow-up assessments at posttreatment (8 weeks [8W]), 3 months [3M], 6 months [6M], and 12 months [12M]). Participants were young adults ages 18-25 (N = 118) who reported ≥4 heavy drinking days in the prior 4 weeks. Outcomes were percent days heavy drinking (PHDD), percent days abstinent (PDA), and drinks per drinking day (DPDD). Results: There were no time effects on PHDD. Treatment improvements were maintained posttreatment. A main effect of time was found for PDA. Both conditions continued to increase PDA posttreatment. For DPDD, a Treatment xTime interaction emerged. In the naltrexone condition, DPDD increased from 8W to 6M and decreased from 6M to 12M, resulting in no net change posttreatment. The placebo group had a nonsignificant decrease in DPDD. The result was a significant benefit of naltrexone at 8W but not 12M. Conclusions: Participants showed improvements or no change on most outcomes over 1 year posttreatment. Naltrexone had significant benefits over placebo at 8W. Although differences among groups diminished during follow-up, overall effects were maintained. Behavioral monitoring during treatment may impact long-term outcomes more than a single intervention following discontinuation of active medication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-190
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • alcohol
  • college
  • intervention
  • naltrexone
  • young adult drinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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