Doctor Bengt Sternebring is head physician at Malmö Addiction Centre, Sweden. With 38 years of experience he is a key opinion leader in prevention and treatment of dependency of alcohol, drugs and/or medication. Dr Sternebring is secretary since 25 years in The Swedish Society of Addiction Medicine.
Dr Sternebring has also written a number of books, the latest is entitled Alkoholberoende: diagnos, komplikationer och behandling (”Alcohol abuse: diagnosis, complications and treatment”).
This book describes several aspects of the treatment of alcohol abuse, including various methods and instruments related to treatment, how choices in treatment options are dependent on diagnosis, the different phases of withdrawal symptoms, and how to prevent relapse. It also presents the neurological, psychiatric and somatic complications that may arise from abuse.
Changing Swedish drinking habits
Alcohol consumption in Sweden is slowly on the decline: 9,4 litres (converted into pure alcohol) per capita compared to 11 litres in the peak year 2004. Swedish drinking habits have step by step become more Central European.
– We drink more now than during the passbook years up to 1955 and before Sweden joining EU. Consumption is switching over from liquor (whiskey and aquavit) to wine and beer. Women have stood for a substantial part of the increased post war alcohol consumption.
In an interview for POA Pharma Dr Sternebring says that the concept of personalized medicine also gained entry in abuse medicine.
– Individualized treatments give better result. I, like my colleges, work with three risk levels:
1) Risk Consumption
2) Hazardous drinking
Levels 1 and 2 are very much in focus at present. Two out of three high consumers can learn to drink “normal” again, while the last third must stay on the wagon.
One of the new pharmaceuticals introduced in the 90’s was Naltrexone.
– It has no doubt a place in today’s abuse therapy. Of the pharmaceuticals we have access to Naltrexone is at present the most researched, says Bengt Sternebring.
– The drug has a good efficacy in certain gene sets, but the effect does not normally set in from Day One. Patients should be instructed to keep taking Naltrexone during 4-6 months. The pharmacological effect comes earlier, but if this is not what the patient experiences, it is important to keep medicating.
– With Naltrexone you can stop many risk consumers to slip deeper into excess alcohol consumption.
Calls for support
Pharmaceuticals are an important part in getting patients away from high alcohol consumption.
– For us working in this field of medicine a better support from the current drug companies would be appreciated, says Bengt Sternebring.
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