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Am J Addict. 2001;10 Suppl:16-23.

Update on anticonvulsants for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.

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  • 1Alcohol Research Center, 67 President St., Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Some anticonvulsants have been shown to be as effective as some benzodiazepines for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal. Anticonvulsants may offer advantages over benzodiazepines in the outpatient treatment of alcohol withdrawal: they lack abuse potential, have minimal interactions with alcohol, and may be more effective in ameliorating psychiatric symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Carbamazepine appears to be as effective as lorazepam and oxazepam in ameliorating the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. In addition, a recent study indicates that carbamazepine may suppress post-withdrawal alcohol use. Divalproex may also reduce symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, based on several open-label studies. However, both carbamazepine and divalproex have limited usefulness in alcoholics with severe hepatic or hematologic complications. Newer anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin and vigabatrin, also appear to reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms in preclinical and open-label clinical trials while lacking the toxicities of carbamazepine and divalproex. Controlled trials are underway exploring the efficacy and safety of newer anticonvulsants for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal.

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