New pharmacological approaches for the treatment of alcoholism

Technische Universität München, München, Bavaria, Germany
Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy (Impact Factor: 3.09). 01/2007; 7(17):2341-53. DOI: 10.1517/14656566.7.17.2341
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Pharmacological relapse prevention in alcoholism is a rather new clinical field with few drugs being available. Acamprosate, acting predominantly via glutamatergic pathways, and the opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone, were both shown to be efficient in improving rates for continuous abstinence, and not relapsing to heavy drinking in a number of clinical trials and meta-analyses. There are conflicting data on both drugs, especially for acamprosate, according to some recent US studies. However, overall, the evidence is good. Both drugs are approved in most European countries and the US. Efficacy data for disulfiram are mixed; it is a second-line medication compared with other drugs, and is probably most effective when used in a supervised setting. Recently, anticonvulsants including carbamazepine and topiramate have been discussed as possible anti-craving drugs, but there is still limited evidence for their efficacy. Although there is a significant comorbidity for alcoholism with affective disorder, anxiety and schizophrenia, relatively few controlled clinical trials have been performed in this area. Tricyclics have been found to be more effective than serotonin reuptake inhibitors in improving depressive symptoms in these patients.

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