For the estimated 18 million Americans who are alcoholics, some take a pill to reduce their cravings. Naltrexone was approved by the FDA in 1994, but researchers found the hard part was getting some compulsive drinkers to take that pill every day. Then came the good news that it might be possible to provide that by injection once a month.
Now, the studies are complete and people like Kenneth McKnight, who volunteered to test the shots, says this treatment is helping him kick a 20 year old drinking habit.
"It really works. No way to explain it to you. The cravings aren't there. That's the whole deal," says Kenneth McKnight, a recovering alcoholic.
"Having a medicine that we can give once a month in the office in an injection frees people from that responsibility where they can continue on with their lives," says Dr. David Streem, with Cleveland Clinic.
A report in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that the injection is more effective than the pill form and FDA approval is pending on the shots. Researchers aren't exactly sure why, but the injection treatments appear to be more effective on men than women.
Alkermes Inc., the Massachusetts pharmaceutical company that developed the injection treatment, financed the six month study on more than 600 people who were found to be alcohol dependent.