Recent Study Shows Efficacy of Medication in Treating Co-Occurring Substance Use and Depression

A recent article posted on the ATTC/NIATx website reported that in a long-term trial conducted in part by NIDA’s National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN), the antidepressant mirtazapine (brand name Remeron) has had positive results in treating alcoholism with co-occurring depression.

Mirtazapine is a second-generation “tetracyclic” antidepressant and is typically used in the treatment of depression.  It has also been marketed as an appetite stimulant, as well as an anti-nausea medication.

Although further testing needs to be conducted, the clinical trials showed positive results of the medication in the treatment of substance use disorders.

The CTN study was relatively small, with 12 test subjects who suffered from both major depressive disorder and alcoholism being treated with mirtazapine.  However, the results were impressive “with self-reported depressive symptoms decreasing by 74% and drinking decreasing by 60.8% at the end of the study’s eight-week acute phase.”

Furthermore, the drug may have had an impact on the subjects’ productivity and level of functioning.  At the beginning of the study, none of the subjects were employed full-time, but by the end of the acute phase 75% of them returned to full-time employment.

The ATTC/NIATx article concluded by adding that “these preliminary findings suggest exciting possibilities for the use of mirtazapine as a treatment for co-occurring depression and alcoholism in both acute and long-term treatment phases.  It is hoped that this study will encourage further research on this medication’s efficacy, as double-blind studies are needed to confirm these results.”

To read the full ATTC/NIATx article, click here.


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