A comparative study on the safety and efficacy of naltrexone versus baclofen versus acamprosate in the management of alcohol dependence

Indian J Psychiatry. 2020 Nov-Dec;62(6):650-658. doi: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_201_19. Epub 2020 Dec 12.


Background: The efficacy of naltrexone, baclofen, and acamprosate in the treatment of alcohol dependence has been successfully established over the past several years. The knowledge about their relative efficacies can facilitate in developing relapse prevention strategies that would give rise to a greater personal and socioeconomic benefits.

Aims and objective: To assess and compare the safety and efficacy profile of naltrexone, baclofen, and acamprosate in the treatment of alcohol dependence. In addition to this, the pattern of relapse and attitude of patients toward the treatment were also assessed.

Materials and methods: This was a prospective study carried out at a tertiary care center. It comprised of thirty alcohol-dependent patients each assigned to naltrexone, baclofen, and acamprosate group after detoxification. The patients were assessed for craving, relapse risk, and medication adherence using the respective scales and questionnaires.

Results: In terms of Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale score decline, the decline seen in the naltrexone group (26.72 ± 13.05) was maximum, followed by baclofen and acamprosate. In terms of decreasing Advance Warning of Relapse (AWARE) questionnaire score, again naltrexone was most effective, with the maximum decline in AWARE score (64.72 ± 45.65), followed by baclofen and acamprosate. The attitude toward treatment with all the three medications was positive, as per the Hogan Drug Attitude Inventory score.

Conclusion: Naltrexone was most effective in decreasing craving and drinking behavior. Baclofen showed best tolerability in terms of liver function tests and least number of side effects reported. Naltrexone group reported the least number of relapses but maximum number of side effects. Acamprosate group had the maximum dropout rate.

Keywords: Acamprosate; alcohol dependence; baclofen; naltrexone.