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It remains unclear if naltrexone combined with psychotherapy is superior to naltrexone alone in treating alcohol use disorders (AUD). The current meta-analysis examined the hypothesis that psychotherapy is a significant moderator that influences AUD-related outcomes and that naltrexone combined with psychotherapy is associated with significantly better AUD-related outcomes than naltrexone alone.


A total of 30 studies (Nnaltrexone = 2317; Nplacebo = 2056) were included. Random effects model meta-analyses were carried out for each of the studied outcomes. Subsequently, the random effects model pooled estimates from studies with and without psychotherapy were compared using a Wald test. A mixed-effect model, incorporating psychotherapy as a moderator, was used to examine the impact of psychotherapy on treatment outcomes.


Naltrexone had a significant treatment effect on abstinence relapse and Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase levels, but not cravings. The pooled estimates for studies with and without psychotherapy were not significantly different for any of the studied outcomes. Psychotherapy was not a significant moderator in the mixed effects models for any of the studied outcomes.


Naltrexone treatment is efficacious in reducing alcohol consumption, but not reducing cravings. Adding psychotherapy on top naltrexone did not result in any significant additional benefit for AUD patients.


© Copyright 2018 Ahmed et al.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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