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J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2012 Oct;32(5):630-6. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0b013e3182676956.

Effects of naltrexone on smoking cessation outcomes and weight gain in nicotine-dependent men and women.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


This study examined whether the opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone is efficacious in smoking cessation and whether sex moderates the response. We assessed smoking quit rates and weight gain in a double-blind randomized trial comparing oral naltrexone (n = 162) with placebo (n = 154) in nicotine-dependent participants who wanted to quit smoking. The medication was gradually titrated up to 50 mg during the week before the quit date and then maintained at this dose for 12 weeks. For the first 4 weeks after the quit date, all participants received a nicotine patch to mitigate tobacco withdrawal and attended weekly individual cognitive-behavioral smoking cessation counseling sessions. After this time, participants continued with naltrexone or placebo through 12 weeks. Follow-up assessments were conducted at 26 and 52 weeks. During treatment, naltrexone (vs placebo) increased quit rates, attenuated smoking urge, and reduced weight gain. At follow-up, after medication discontinuation, the effect of naltrexone on improving quit rates was no longer evident. Men and women experienced different benefits from naltrexone; men showed greater reductions in smoking, whereas women showed greater reductions in weight gain. In sum, naltrexone showed acute efficacy in treating nicotine dependence, but after the medication was discontinued, the effect on quit rate was not maintained. Further study of naltrexone in smoking cessation treatment and reduction of cessation-related weight gain, as well as preclinical investigation of mechanisms underlying sex differences, is warranted.

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