Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often co-occurs with alcohol dependence, yet little is known about treatment of this comorbidity. The serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors have been shown preliminarily to be effective in decreasing symptoms of PTSD but have not been studied in individuals with comorbid alcohol dependence. This is of particular interest as the SSRIs also have a modest effect in decreasing alcohol consumption.
In this preliminary trial, nine subjects with comorbid PTSD and alcohol dependence were treated in an open-label trial with sertraline for a 12-week period. Symptoms of PTSD and depression were monitored monthly with the Impact of Event Scale and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D). Alcohol consumption was monitored by a self-report instrument (Time-Line Follow-Back).
There were significant decreases in all three symptom clusters of PTSD measured by overall PTSD symptom scores (p < or = .001) and in HAM-D scores (p < or = .001) during the follow-up period. Days of abstinence increased and average number of drinks decreased during the follow-up period. Four subjects claimed total abstinence during the follow-up period.
While limited by small sample size and the open-label, nonblinded study design, this study suggests that sertraline may be useful in the treatment of PTSD complicated by alcoholism. The medication was well tolerated and subjects showed improvement in PTSD symptoms as well as decreased alcohol consumption. A controlled trial of sertraline in this population would be of interest.
"Sertraline, a serotoninspecific reuptake inhibitor, has been investigated in patients with comorbid alcohol dependence and PTSD. The first study was a small (n = 9) open-label, 12-week trial, which demonstrated significant pre–post decreases in alcohol use severity (e.g., number of drinking days, number of drinks per day), as well as PTSD symptoms of re-experiencing the trauma, avoidance, and hyperarousal (Brady et al. 1995). A second study examined the efficacy of 12 weeks of sertraline compared with placebo in 94 patients with alcohol dependence and PTSD (Brady et al. 2005). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early-childhood trauma is strongly associated with developing mental health problems, including alcohol dependence, later in life. People with early-life trauma may use alcohol to help cope with trauma-related symptoms. This article reviews the prevalence of early-childhood trauma and its robust association with the development of alcohol use disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder. It also examines the potential biological mechanisms by which early adverse experiences can result in long-lasting changes in neurobiology underlying this vulnerability, as well as pharmacological and behavioral interventions. Recent investigations highlight the importance of assessing trauma among patients with alcohol use disorders and the positive benefits associated with the application of integrative psychosocial interventions that target both trauma-related symptoms and alcohol dependence.
Alcohol research : current reviews 03/2012; 34(4):408-13.
"The efficacy of these medications may be more robust in non-veteran and predominately female patient populations (Hertzberg et al, 1999; Smajkic et al, 2001), including a negative clinical trial in predominately male veterans (Friedman et al, 2007). Although an openlabel study suggested that sertraline reduced PTSD symptoms and alcohol consumption (Brady et al, 1995), a larger randomized, placebo controlled study (n ¼ 94) showed no significant overall effect of sertraline on symptoms of PTSD or alcohol consumption (Brady and Sinha, 2005). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are associated with high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and comorbid alcohol use disorders. The pharmacotherapy of these comorbid conditions has received relatively little study. The current study compared the serotonin uptake inhibitor, paroxetine, to the norepinephrine uptake inhibitor, desipramine. It also evaluated the adjunctive efficacy of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved alcoholism pharmacotherapy, naltrexone, relative to placebo. Four groups of predominately male veterans (n=88) meeting current diagnostic criteria for both alcohol dependence (AD) and PTSD were randomly assigned under double-blind conditions to one of four groups: paroxetine+naltrexone; paroxetine+placebo; desipramine+naltrexone; desipramine+placebo. Main outcome measures included standardized scales that assessed symptoms of PTSD and alcohol consumption. Paroxetine did not show statistical superiority to desipramine for the treatment of PTSD symptoms. However, desipramine was superior to paroxetine with respect to study retention and alcohol use outcomes. Naltrexone reduced alcohol craving relative to placebo, but it conferred no advantage on drinking use outcomes. Although the serotonin uptake inhibitors are the only FDA-approved medications for the treatment of PTSD, the current study suggests that norepinephrine uptake inhibitors may present clinical advantages when treating male veterans with PTSD and AD. However, naltrexone did not show evidence of efficacy in this population. This study was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, registration number NCT00338962 and URL: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00338962?term=desipramine+AND+alcohol+dependence+AND+depression&recr=Closed&rank=1.Keywords: alcohol and alcoholism; psychopharmacology; PTSD; naltrexone; veterans; comorbidity
"While the exact role of serotonin in PTSD is not fully understood, SSRIs have been used to treat PTSD effectively. For PTSD with concurrent A/ SUD, an open label preliminary study of sertraline with nine participants showed PTSD symptom and alcohol intake reduction (Brady et al., 1995). In one of only two RCTs of pharmacological treatment for comorbid PTSD and A/SUD, Brady and colleagues (2005) randomly assigned 94 individuals with PTSD and alcohol dependence to sertraline or placebo using a double blind design. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol/substance use disorder (A/SUD) are frequently comorbid. Comorbidity is associated with poorer psychological, functional, and treatment outcomes than either disorder alone. This review outlines biological mechanisms that are potentially involved in the development and maintenance of comorbid PTSD and A/SUD including neurotransmitter and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysregulation, structural differences in the brain, and shared genetic risk factors. The literature regarding pharmacological treatments that have been investigated for comorbid PTSD and A/SUD is also reviewed. Empirical data for each proposed mechanism and pharmacological approach is reviewed with the goal of making recommendations for future research. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder'.
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