Naltrexone alters subjective and psychomotor responses to alcohol in heavy drinking subjects

Mary E. McCaul, Gary S. Wand, Thomas Eissenberg, Charles A. Rohde, Lawrence J. Cheskin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Preclinical studies support endogenous opioid system involvement in alcohol reinforcement and consumption; however, recent clinical trials and human laboratory studies have provided mixed findings of the effects of naltrexone (a non-selective opioid antagonist) on alcohol responses. This study used a within-subject design (n = 23) to investigate naltrexone effects (0, 50 and 100 mg qd) on subjective and psychomotor responses to alcohol (none, moderate, high) in heavy drinkers. Before alcohol administration, subjects reported decreased desire to drink alcohol when maintained on 50 mg compared with placebo naltrexone. Following alcohol administration, active naltrexone significantly increased subjective ratings of sedative, and unpleasant/sick effects and decreased ratings of liking, best effects and desire to drink. Naltrexone generally did not alter subjective or objective indicators of drunkenness. Finally, high doses of naltrexone and alcohol interacted to produce the greatest decreases in liking and best effects. Findings support the role of endogenous opioids as determinants of alcohol's effects and suggest that naltrexone may be particularly clinically useful in those treatment patients who continue to drink heavily. Copyright (C) 2000 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-492
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2000


  • Alcoholism
  • Naltrexone
  • Opioid
  • Psychomotor responses
  • Subjective responses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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