Pharmacological treatment of alcoholism.

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27 Scopus citations


1. Pharmacological treatments are effective as part of a treatment plan that includes substantial education, psychological therapy and social support. This paper reviews recent literature on animal models of and treatment for alcohol abuse under seven categories: agents to block craving or reduce alcohol intake, agents to induce aversion to alcohol, agents to treat acute alcohol withdrawal, agents to treat protracted alcohol withdrawal, agents to diminish drinking by treating associated psychiatric pathology, agents to decrease drinking by treating associated drug abuse, and agents to induce sobriety in intoxicated individuals. 2. The benzodiazepines provide safe and effective treatment for detoxification, although current research focuses on finding drugs with a smaller likelihood of dependence. As yet, there are no drugs that effectively reverse the intoxicating effects of alcohol. 3. Currently, only two major groups of drugs that are relatively safe have shown any effect at reducing alcohol consumption: aversives such as disulfiram, and opioid antagonists such as naltrexone. 4. Finally, it is important to customize therapy for each patient rather than putting everyone through a standard treatment plan, especially in regards to the use of antidepressant or antipsychotic medications. Tailoring the program to the patient's needs dramatically improves the outcome of therapy and reduces the risk of adverse effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-944
Number of pages28
JournalProgress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998


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