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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2002 Aug 1;67(3):323-30.

The use of divalproex in alcohol relapse prevention: a pilot study.

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  • 1Institute of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs, Medical University of South Carolina, 67 President Street, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Anticonvulsant agents show promise in the treatment of the acute symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and may also treat some symptoms associated with the protracted abstinence syndrome. Impulsivity, hostility and irritability are common characteristics of alcohol-dependent individuals, and there is some evidence that anticonvulsant agents decrease these traits in individuals with a number of different psychiatric disorders. This pilot study is a 12-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of an anticonvulsant agent, divalproex (DVPX), in alcohol-dependent individuals. Alcohol use (Timeline Follow Back), impulsivity (Barratt Impulsivity Scale), irritability and aggression (Buss-Durkee Hostility Index; and Anger, Irritability, Aggression Scale) were measured at baseline and throughout the 12-week treatment period. Drinking decreased significantly in both the placebo and the DVPX-treated groups. In the DVPX group, a significantly smaller percentage of individuals relapsed to heavy drinking, but there were no significant differences in other alcohol-related outcomes. There were significantly greater decreases in irritability in the DVPX-treated group and a trend towards greater decreases on measures of lability and verbal assault. There were no significant between-group differences on measures of impulsivity. While DVPX did not have a robust effect on alcohol-related outcomes, it did have modest impact on a measure of irritability. This is consistent with the findings of other investigators exploring the use of DVPX in schizophrenia, personality disorder and a number of other psychiatric disorders.

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