Efficacy of naltrexone in smoking cessation: A preliminary study and an examination of sex differences

Andrea King, Harriet de Wit, Roslynn C. Riley, Dingcai Cao, Raymond Niaura, Dorothy Hatsukami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


This double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial evaluated the efficacy of naltrexone as an adjunct to standard smoking cessation treatment. Participants (N=110) were adult male and female nicotine-dependent smokers who expressed interest in quitting smoking. All subjects received six sessions of behavioral counseling (1 hr/session for 6 weeks), and 1 month of the nicotine patch (21 mg for the first 2 weeks, 14 mg the third week, 7 mg the fourth week). Subjects were randomly assigned to the naltrexone or placebo group. The naltrexone group started at 25 mg daily for 3 days prior to the quit date, and increased to 50 mg/day on the quit date and following 8 weeks. At the end of medication treatment, the naltrexone group had better quit rates versus the placebo group (48% quit on naltrexone vs. 41% on placebo), but this difference was not statistically significant. However, men and women differed on several measures: in the placebo group, women had significantly lower quit rates than men (39% vs. 67%, p<.05), but in the naltrexone group, women had quit rates comparable with those of men (58% vs. 62%, p=ns). Further examination revealed that naltrexone significantly reduced men's and women's cessation-related weight gain and selectively reduced women's urge to smoke to relieve negative affect and withdrawal. The results suggest continued examination of naltrexone as an adjunct in smoking cessation, particularly in female smokers, who have historically shown worse outcomes with traditional treatment methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)671-682
Number of pages12
JournalNicotine and Tobacco Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2006


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