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Am Fam Physician. 2016 Mar 15;93(6):457-65.

Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder.

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Swedish Family Medicine Residency Program, Littleton, CO, USA.
Kaiser Permanente, Highlands Ranch, CA, USA.


The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that clinicians screen adults for alcohol misuse and provide persons engaged in risky or hazardous drinking behaviors with brief behavioral counseling to reduce alcohol misuse. However, only a minority of American adults with high-risk alcohol use receive treatment. Three medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat alcohol use disorder: acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone. Acamprosate and naltrexone reduce alcohol consumption and increase abstinence rates, although the effects appear to be modest. Disulfiram has been used for years, but evidence supporting its effectiveness is inconsistent. Other medications may be beneficial to reduce heavy alcohol use. The anticonvulsants topiramate and gabapentin may reduce alcohol ingestion, although long-term studies are lacking. Antidepressants do not decrease alcohol use in patients without mood disorders, but sertraline and fluoxetine may help depressed patients decrease alcohol ingestion. Ondansetron may reduce alcohol use, particularly in selected subpopulations. Further study is needed for genetically targeted or as-needed medications to reduce alcohol use.

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