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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1995 Aug;19(4):1004-10.

Effects of cerebral electrical stimulation on alcoholism: a pilot study.

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Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Alcohol Research Program, Verdun, Que, Canada.


Cerebral electrical stimulation (CES), born from research on electroanesthesia in the seventies, consists of the application of a pulsating current of small intensity (usually less than 1 mA, and below the threshold of perception) through the skull, e.g., in daily 30-min sessions. Claims of biological effectiveness (neurochemical, hormonal and EEG changes, naloxone-reversible analgesia in rats, etc.) and of clinical effectiveness (anxiety, depression, cognitive functions in alcoholics) have often relied on poorly controlled data. A recent controlled study in the treatment of opiate withdrawal has been positive. The present double-blind controlled study compares active CES with sham stimulation in 64 alcohol-dependent males. Over 4 weeks, both treatment groups improved significantly in most aspects. In the active treatment group additional significant improvement was observed in week-end alcohol consumption, and in two psychological measures: depression and stress symptoms index, but not in general drinking behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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