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Clinical Trial Tests Harm Reduction Methods in Emergency Shelters

by Sam Leibowitz-Lord

Harm Reduction Treatment for Alcohol (HaRT-A.) HaRT-A,  is a method that allows a person  to slowly reduce their consumption over a fixed period of time rather than counting total days abstinence A recent study published in the Lancet Journal of Psychiatry found a connection between harm HaRT-A and a sharp decrease in alcohol-related deaths among individuals experiencing homelessness. .

The study was performed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in  collaboration with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Individuals ages 21-64 years old who met the DSM-V criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) accessing  shelters and temporary housing facilities in the Seattle metro area were recruited, HaRT-A was offered with supervised injections of either naltrexone or a placebo. Another group received traditional, group-based therapy with a focus on abstinence and total use prevention. Both the format of behavioral therapy and the injection (naloxone vs placebo) were randomized among the participants and across the three locations, providing controlled outcomes of overall alcohol consumption, mental and emotional harm, and physical side-effects based on the “HaRT-A + XR-NTX method.”

Researchers found a significant improvement among the group that received HaRT-A behavioral support plus a weekly injection (whether placebo or naltrexone.), Alcohol quantity, alcohol frequency, and physical harm from alcohol decreased significantly among participants who received HaRT-A. Furthermore, the study showed no significant differences in outcomes between participants who received a XR-NTX injection and those who received a placebo injection. HaRT-A had a significant effect in reducing harmful outcomes for participants.

The study can be found here.

Disclaimer: The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies