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Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1997 Jan;129(1):15-22.

Effect of naltrexone on subjective alcohol response in subjects at high and low risk for future alcohol dependence.

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  • 1University of Pennsylvania Treatment Research Center, Department of Psychiatry, Philadelphia, USA.


We investigated specific subjective effects of naltrexone pretreatment or placebo during various intervals on the breath alcohol level (BAL) curve in nonalcoholic volunteers. Fifteen high-risk (social drinkers with an alcoholic father) and 14 low-risk (no alcoholic relatives in at least two generations) subjects were tested in a double-blind placebo-controlled study of the effects of 50 mg oral naltrexone on response to a moderate dose of alcohol. Dependent measures included subjective stimulation and sedation subscales from the Biphasic Alcohol Effects Scale (BAES) and mood subscales from the Profile of Mood States (POMS). At rising BALs, high-risk subjects showed a naltrexone-related attenuation of BAES stimulation. This effect was not evident in low-risk subjects, who directionally showed the opposite effect, although nonsignificant. For both groups, there were no significant naltrexone-related effects for BAES sedation; however, naltrexone did affect several POMS scales on alcohol response, such as decreased vigor, and increased fatigue, tension, and confusion. Confusion was significantly elevated for the high-risk group during rising BALs of the naltrexone session. The results suggest a differential response to naltrexone, based on paternal history of alcoholism and level of stimulation experienced during alcohol drinking.

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