Helen Pettinati, Ph.D., Director of the Addiction Treatment Research and Medication Development Division, Center for the Studies of Addiction, was recently honored by the Butler Center for Research at Hazelden with the Dan Anderson Research Award, for her randomized clinical trial examining the effects treating alcohol dependence and depression concurrently.  The award is for a single published article by a researcher who has advanced the scientific knowledge of addiction treatment and recovery.

Pettinati earned the award for her study, "A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial Combining Sertraline and Naltrexone for Treating Co-Occurring Depression and Alcohol Dependence," published in the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. The study focused on 170 individuals attending outpatient treatment for alcohol dependence, all of whom had a co-occurring depressive disorder. All participants received weekly cognitive behavioral therapy sessions and were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups: a combined sertraline and naltrexone group, a naltrexone-only group, a sertraline-only group, and a placebo control group. Participants taking both medications were compared to the other three groups on a number of treatment outcomes, including total abstinence, time to relapse, and presence of depression symptoms.

“The co-occurrence of depression and alcohol dependence is highly prevalent and difficult to treat successfully,” said Pettinati. "The present findings suggest that patients with both disorders would benefit from combination treatment with an antidepressant and anti-craving medication for alcohol dependence.” Dr. Charles O'Brien nominated Dr. Pettinati for the award, stating her work "can be expected to have a major impact on the treatment of alcoholic patients [with] depression.”   

The full press release from Hazelden is available here: http://www.hazelden.org/web/public/pr101208.page.

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