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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2004 Sep;5(9):1943-55.

An overview of the development of medications including novel anticonvulsants for the treatment of alcohol dependence.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Division of Alcohol and Drug Addiction, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, 3939 Medical Drive, Suite 100, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA.


The development of treatments for alcohol dependence has been significantly complicated by the multiple actions of ethanol at the neurotransmitter level, heterogeneity among patients with alcohol dependence, the complexity of defining and measuring the phenomenon of craving, and the challenge of quantifying alcohol intake in patients. Increasingly, anticonvulsant medications are showing promise for the safe and effective amelioration of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, there is evidence that anticonvulsant medications are promising treatments for reducing drinking and preventing relapse among alcohol-dependent individuals. In recent years, many medications have been evaluated for the treatment of alcohol dependence, including those that interact with dopaminergic, serotonergic, opioid or glutamate and/or GABA systems. So far, naltrexone, acamprosate and, more recently, the anticonvulsant, topiramate, have shown some efficacy for the treatment of heterogeneous populations of individuals with alcohol dependence. Both ondansetron and sertraline appear to have some efficacy in treating different subgroups of alcoholic.

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