New Drug Combo Shows Promise for Treatment of Depression and Addiction

Drug Combo Shows Promise for Depression and Addiction

The combination of naltrexone and ketamine can help treat both symptoms of addiction and depression, a preliminary study by Yale University researchers suggests.

Substance abuse and depression are common in many patients, and efforts to treat both conditions simultaneously have had limited success. One recent study suggested that the antidepressant effects of ketamine might blunted by administration of naltrexone, used to limit cravings of those addicted to opioid drugs and alcohol.

A preliminary study of five patients suffering from both depression and substance abuse disorders suggest that isn’t the case. The study was published Jan. 9 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

The results “raise the possibility that for people who have depression complicated by substance abuse disorders, the combination of ketamine and naltrexone may be a strategy to explore in the effort to optimally treat both conditions,” said senior author John Krystal, Yale’s Robert L. McNeil Jr. Professor of Translational Research; professor of psychiatry, neuroscience, and psychology; and chair of the Department of Psychiatry.

Krystal and lead author Gihyun Yoon, assistant professor of psychiatry, treated the five patients suffering from depression and alcohol use disorder with a long-lasting form of naltrexone and then administered ketamine. Four of the five responded to the first ketamine dose and all five found relief from depression after multiple doses.

The study also challenges the idea that ketamine might produce antidepressant effects by stimulating opiate receptors.

Krystal cautioned that larger studies are needed to confirm beneficial effects of the combination treatment.

Krystal and Yoon have provisional patents on the use of ketamine and naltrexone to treat comorbid depression and substance abuse.

The study was primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Publication: Gihyun Yoon, et al., “Association of Combined Naltrexone and Ketamine With Depressive Symptoms in a Case series of Patients With Depression and Alcohol Use Disorder,” JAMA Psychiatry, 2019; doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.3990

3 Comments on "New Drug Combo Shows Promise for Treatment of Depression and Addiction"

  1. I find it highly irresponsible to publish an article about a “study” consisting of only FIVE people. That is not a sufficient number of people to draw inference or conclusions about anything let alone the efficacy of a drug regimen. Shame on your organization, the editors, and the reporters involved!

  2. Daurrie Kesslyn | January 24, 2019 at 1:44 pm | Reply

    This article is depressing me; I need a pick-me-up! (What should I know about a “fixed idea”?)

    Origin: Probability of a Single Protein Forming by Chance

    Quantum theory: the weird world of teleportation, tardigrades and entanglement

  3. Ketamine “might” and it “might” not… Psychiatrists don’t have a clue how to help people so they just prescribe stimulants in the hope that patients might prefer to be addicted to pharmaceutical stimulants than to other kinds of stimulants like drugs or alcohol.

    Stop taking all kinds of stimulants and that includes sugar and coffee… all of these things alter perception. Put your faith in God and not in Doctors, shrinks, specialists etc.. and not in magic pharmaceuticals!

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