Combining medical treatment and CBT in treating alcohol-dependent patients: effects on life quality and general well-being

Alcohol Alcohol. Nov-Dec 2013;48(6):687-93. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agt053. Epub 2013 Jun 28.


Aims: The aim of the study was to examine how the combination of medication and a brief cognitive behavioral intervention for alcohol dependency can affect patients' quality of life (QL), symptoms of depression and smoking habits.

Methods: We conducted a randomized, open-label, multicenter naturalistic study for 243 voluntary-treatment-seeking alcohol-dependent adult outpatients in two phases: first, 12 weeks with continuous medication followed by targeted medication for up to 52 weeks, and second, a follow-up period of 67 weeks (altogether 2.5 years). The subjects were randomized 1:1:1 to receive supervised naltrexone, acamprosate or disulfiram, plus a brief manual-based cognitive behavioral intervention (CBT).

Results: All three study groups showed a significant reduction in drinking from baseline to the end of the study. In the QL test EQ-5D, patients exhibited significant positive changes in sleeping, action, pain and mood dimensions. Severity of depression decreased during the whole study. Smoking decreased more in the disulfiram group than in the naltrexone and acamprosate groups.

Conclusion: A combination of medical treatment (naltrexone, acamprosate or disulfiram) with the CBT-booklet (patient guide) appears to help reduce patients' symptoms of depression and improve their QL. Treatment is also associated with success at quitting smoking, especially among patients using disulfiram.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acamprosate
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Deterrents / therapeutic use
  • Alcoholism / drug therapy
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disulfiram / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Patient Compliance
  • Quality of Life
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Taurine / analogs & derivatives
  • Taurine / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Alcohol Deterrents
  • Taurine
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram