Antiepileptic drug has helped with alcoholism

American scientists have conducted successful clinical trials of antiepileptic drug gabapentin for the treatment of alcoholism. Within 16 weeks of receiving the drug, 27 percent of the participants from the experimental group did not have any binge days compared with 9 percent in the placebo group, and the number ceases to drink alcohol while taking the drug was higher by 13.8 percent. Most effective gabapentin acted in the group of people with a severe form of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The results of a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome is often confused with a hangover, but his symptoms are much heavier, and there it is, in General, when the cessation of alcohol intake in the last stages of alcoholism. In addition to the classic nausea, headache and depressed and depression, this syndrome is also observed tremor of the extremities, tachycardia, sweating, and dizziness, and sometimes other symptoms, including aggression and anxiety.

For the treatment of severe withdrawal syndrome using gabapentin is the drug of anticonvulsant action that is most often used in the treatment of epilepsy and some mental disorders (e.g., anxiety disorders). While its effectiveness in the treatment of alcoholism, primarily manifested in reduced consumption and complete abstinence, it is still not clinically tested.

The team under the leadership of Raymond Anton (Raymond Anton) from the Medical University of South Carolina for my clinical research took 90 volunteers with diagnosed alcoholism. Were used to diagnose methodological and statistical manual DSM-5: all participants were recorded the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and they all drank at least five servings of alcohol (14 grams of ethyl alcohol per serving — about one can of beer, glass of wine or shot of vodka) each day during the last three months. Participants were asked to refrain from drinking alcohol for three days prior to the start of the study, and they were forbidden to take any psychoactive substance or medicines (other than prescribed antidepressants).

Participants were divided into two groups: 44 people prescribed gabapentin at a dosage of 1.2 grams a day (different doses depending on time), and 46 people took a placebo. All clinical trial took place over 16 weeks: participants were asked to record daily drinking alcohol, and once a month to attend examinations.

During the study, 12 participants taking gabapentin, was not drunken days — that is, those in which they had drank five or more servings of alcohol in a placebo group, these participants were four. Completely abstain from alcohol have been eight people from the experimental group compared to two participants in the placebo group. Interestingly, gabapentin most effectively acted on people with the most severe form of withdrawal syndrome, recorded before the study began. Of the side effects of the drug observed frequent dizziness, but his presence on the effectiveness of the treatment had no effect.

The basis of the pharmacological action of gabapentin — stimulation of formation of inhibitory neurotransmitter of the CNS, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which also plays a key role in the effects of alcohol on the nervous system and in the development of alcohol dependence. According to scientists, that the drug influenced the group with severe withdrawal symptoms most effectively, it is not surprising, mainly taking into account its use for the treatment of abstinence syndrome. One of the main symptoms of this syndrome — the desire to drink again (mostly to ease the condition): apparently, in the relief of withdrawal symptoms due to effects on the GABA system, gabapentin actually reduces the need for alcohol. However, for the introduction of the drug into clinical practice for the treatment of alcoholism still need further study.

Alcohol is one of the most common and easily accessible Central nervous system depressants, therefore it quite often use to reduce anxiety. With depression it is, of course, contraindicated, but that’s short-term antidepressant effect he is still there: in 2016, scientists showedthat alcohol can act in the same way as “fast-depressants” — antagonists of glutamate NMDA receptors.

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