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Alcohol Alcohol. 2011 Mar-Apr;46(2):177-84. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agr005.

Carbamazepine and valproate as adjuncts in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome: a retrospective cohort study.

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Department of Toxicology, 2. Medizinische Klinik, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Ismaningerstr. 22, D-81675 Munich, Germany.



To compare the clinical course, incidence of withdrawal seizures (WS) or delirium tremens (DT) and side effects during treatment of alcohol withdrawal in patients treated with either carbamazepine (CBZ) or valproate (VPA) as an adjunct to clomethiazole and clonidine therapy.


Retrospective analysis of charts of two cohorts of inpatients treated during 2000-2009: CBZ 374 patients, VPA 453 patients.


At baseline, those treated with VPA and those treated with CBZ were similar except for a trend to younger age and a higher incidence of previous WS in the CBZ group. The median duration of pharmacological treatment (91 vs. 76 h; P < 0.001) and the length of stay (8 vs. 6 days; P < 0.001) as well as the need for intensive care treatment (7 vs. 2%; P = 0.001) were significantly higher in the CBZ than the VPA group. Additionally, withdrawal-related complications such as WS occurred more often in the CBZ group (9.6 vs. 5.5%; not significant after adjusting for potential confounders); the incidence of DT in the CBZ group was insignificantly higher (6.6 vs. 4.4%; P = 0.52). Admittance with seizures and older age were predictors of WS and DT, respectively. Adverse drug reactions, mainly affecting the central nervous system, were significantly more frequent with CBZ than VPA (7.6 vs. 2%; P < 0.001).


During alcohol withdrawal, VPA may offer some benefits compared with CBZ due to favorable tolerability, possibly less incidence of WS and a shorter duration of pharmacological treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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