Pilot Study of Depot NTX in Homeless Veterans

2014-08-27 03:12:29 | BioPortfolio


Almost 200,000 veterans are homeless each night, about one-quarter to one-third of homeless adults in the U.S. Half need treatment for a substance use disorder, usually alcohol dependence, but sobriety is often required to access alcohol treatment and housing services. A monthly injection of depot naltrexone is efficacious in reducing alcohol use, but it is expensive and restricted in many VA Medical Centers. Oral naltrexone is more available but seldom used because of adherence problems that limit effectiveness. This open-label pilot study would compare the effect of depot versus oral naltrexone to help twenty homeless, alcohol-dependent veterans decrease their drinking, achieve sobriety and qualify for housing services. This study's findings could expand access to effective medication-assisted alcohol treatment in the VA, and thus help homeless veterans with alcohol problems improve their drinking, housing status, and appropriate use of health services.


Anticipated Impacts on Veteran's Healthcare. Ending homelessness among veterans is a major priority for VA. Veterans represent between one in four and one in three homeless adults. Almost 200,000 veterans are homeless each night. Rhode Island has the second highest per capita concentration of homeless persons in the United States and an estimated 2,000 homeless veterans. Half report unmet service needs related to substance use disorders. The VA is a major service provider to homeless persons and has developed innovative housing assistance programs. However, sobriety is required to access many housing services. Effective medication-assisted treatment for the alcohol-dependent, homeless population could improve their substance use, health care utilization and housing stability. If depot naltrexone is a useful tool for engaging alcohol-dependent, homeless veterans in effective treatment, a definitive study showing its effect would lead to fewer restrictions on depot naltrexone on the VA formulary, and expand access to effective medication-assisted treatment.

Project Background/Rationale. A dearth of residential long-term rehabilitation beds makes an initial period of sobriety necessary in order for homeless persons to access needed transitional sheltering in order to participate in outpatient alcohol treatment. Many alcohol-dependent homeless veterans find it difficult to achieve a period of sobriety. Clinical trials suggest that depot naltrexone is more efficacious than placebo in improving alcohol consumption among alcohol-dependent subjects, but depot naltrexone is expensive and has limited availability in many VA Medical Centers. Oral naltrexone is widely available but seldom used. This work seeks to examine the effect of depot versus oral naltrexone to help homeless alcohol dependent veterans.

Project Objectives. This open-label pilot study will compare the effect of 16-weeks of depot versus oral naltrexone among housing-seeking, alcohol dependent, homeless veterans. Outcomes will include alcohol consumption, housing stability, emergency department and hospital utilization, and substance abuse treatment participation. These preliminary data will evaluate the feasibility and effect size to allow the design of a larger, more definitive study of whether, compared to the oral naltrexone condition, the depot naltrexone group will experience: greater proportion of days abstinent and fewer drinks per drinking day; shorter time to achieve 30 days sobriety; more improvement in housing stability; fewer emergency department visits and hospitalizations and greater attendance at substance abuse treatment (number of visits attended).

Project Methods. Over 5 months, 20 homeless, alcohol dependent veterans will be recruited from the waiting lists for transitional or permanent housing at the Providence VA Medical Center. Using block randomization to stratify by current duration of abstinence (less than 7 days vs. 7 or more days) and sheltering (doubled-up/unsheltered/emergency vs. transitional sheltered), subjects will be assigned to either injection with depot naltrexone 380 mg. monthly or oral naltrexone 50 mg daily for 16 weeks. All will have medical visits with medication management counseling every 4 weeks with during the treatment period. Referrals will be made to needed services in keeping with standard practice. Research assessments at baseline and every 4 weeks through week 24 will assess alcohol consumption through self-report on calendar-based interviews, breathalyzer and liver enzyme testing. Primary outcomes will be alcohol consumption and time from randomization-to-30-day-sobriety. Secondary outcomes will include housing stability (across 5 ordered categories), emergency department and hospital utilization, and alcohol treatment participation from administrative data, CPRS abstracting and self-report.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Health Services Research


Alcohol Dependence


Depot naltrexone, Oral Naltrexone


VA Medical Center, Providence
Rhode Island
United States


Not yet recruiting


Department of Veterans Affairs

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-08-27T03:12:29-0400

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