Alaska Natives applying to be part of alcoholism study

Posted: Wednesday, March 12, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) A research study is being conducted in Southeast that couples a drug used to decrease alcohol cravings with one that alleviates depression.

One of the study's lead investigators, Dr. Robert Robin with the Yale University School of Medicine, said Tuesday that about 80 Alaska Natives have applied to be part of the study that will use Naltrexone with the anti-depressant Zoloft.

The study is being conducted by Yale and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, a Native health care provider. It is being funded by a $2.6 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Office of Minority Health Research.

Fellow Yale study investigator Stephanie O'Malley said Naltrexone is a drug approved since 1994 which helps decrease the urge to drink.

Researchers hope Zoloft will reduce the stress associated with quitting drinking, so the Naltrexone can be more effective.

Since December, 21 people have been accepted into the program and six others are waiting to be screened. Applicants that are rejected are being referred to other treatment programs.

Robin said at least one Juneau resident per week has enrolled.

At this rate, as many as half of our targeted number of 198 study participants will be Juneau residents,'' he said. This exceeds our earlier projected percentage of 40 percent for the Juneau study site.''

The study's recruitment effort includes Natives from Klukwan, Haines, Sitka, Juneau and eventually Prince of Wales Island and Kake.

Robin said about two-thirds of the applicants are Sitka residents and another 10 percent are from villages and small towns.

Once the Kake and POW sites are ready for study participation, we expect as many as one-third of the participants to be from the more village-based rural areas,'' Robin said.



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