Study Shows Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder Markedly Improve Outcomes When Prescribed Upon Discharge

April 2, 2024
These medications are currently rarely prescribed even though they are cheap and effective

According to a new study published in JAMA Network Open and led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital, outcomes markedly improve when “medications for alcohol use disorder are prescribed upon discharge to patients hospitalized for alcohol-related reasons.”

Previous findings by these researchers found that “among Medicare patients who have the most severe cases of the disorder, only 2% receive these prescriptions when they leave the hospital.” This is despite the fact that the medications themselves are “evidence-based and inexpensive.”

The researchers compared 30-day outcomes for 6,794 Medicare Part D beneficiaries in 2016, who “collectively had 9,834 alcohol-related hospitalizations that year,” for those who received medications such as oral naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram after being discharged, versus those who did not.

According to the research, “those who received a medication for alcohol use disorder were 42% less likely to have visited an emergency department, been readmitted to a hospital, or died one month after discharge. Additionally, subsequent visits to primary care and mental health care providers were 22% more likely in the group who received medications.”

Senior author Timothy Anderson, M.D., M.A.S., said that “physicians often don’t feel prepared to prescribe these medications,” but that the results of this study indicate that “training inpatient clinicians to initiate these medications and to develop plans for post-hospital follow up with patients and their primary care teams has the potential to improve patient outcomes and to reduce preventable readmissions.”

UPMC’s website has the release.