Systematic review and meta-analysis of opioid antagonists for smoking cessation
Objectives: This meta-analysis sought to evaluate the efficacy of opioid antagonists in promoting long-term smoking cessation. Post-treatment abstinence was examined as a secondary outcome and effects on withdrawal symptoms, craving and reduced consumption were also explored. Design: The search strategy for this meta-analysis included clinical trials (published and unpublished data) in the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register and MEDLINE. Participants: Adult smokers. Interventions: We included randomised trials comparing opioid antagonists to placebo or an alternative therapy for smoking cessation and reported data on abstinence for a minimum of 6 months. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Outcomes included smoking abstinence at long-term follow-up (primary); abstinence at end of treatment (secondary); and effects on withdrawal, craving and smoking consumption (exploratory). Results: 8 trials with a total of 1213 participants were included. Half the trials examined the benefit of adding naltrexone versus placebo to nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). There was no significant difference between naltrexone and placebo alone (relative risk (RR) 1.00; 95% CI 0.66 to 1.51) or as an adjunct to NRT (RR 0.95; 95% CI 0.70 to 1.30), with an overall pooled estimate of RR 0.97; 95% CI 0.76 to 1.24. Findings for naltrexone effects on withdrawal, craving and reduced smoking were equivocal. Conclusions: The findings indicate no beneficial effect of naltrexone alone or as an adjunct to NRT on short-term or long-term smoking abstinence. While further trials may narrow the confidence limits, they are unlikely to appreciably alter the conclusion.