Yale researchers are investigating the use of the medication naltrexone to help men and women quit smoking without gaining weight.
"The prospect of gaining weight is of particular concern to women smokers and to a substantial number of men," said Stephanie O'Malley, professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, director of the Substance Abuse Research Division, and principal investigator for the Yale Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC). "The development of a treatment that will allow smokers to quit while reducing weight gain could convince more people to attempt quitting."
Naltrexone is a medication that blocks the effects of drugs such as morphine, heroin and codeine. It also has been approved for use in treating alcoholism and is being investigated for its ability to help smokers quit.
O'Malley and her team are looking for men and women smokers who want to quit and are also concerned about gaining weight while doing so. All of the participants will use the nicotine patch and will receive counseling to help them quit. Some of the participants also will receive a low dose of naltrexone to see whether it has an effect on their weight and their ability to quit smoking. Most smoking studies provide treatment for six to 12 weeks. This study will provide six months of treatment.
Benjamin Toll, associate research scientist, said most smokers gain weight in the first six months after quitting smoking. "Extending the traditional length of treatment might not only increase abstinence rates and prevent relapse, but also allow for greater stabilization of the person as a successful quitter," Toll said.