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Addiction. 1995 Jan;90(1):87-99.

Effects of citalopram and a brief psycho-social intervention on alcohol intake, dependence and problems.

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Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, Department of Pharmacology, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Citalopram (C) decreased alcohol intake and desire to drink in short-term (2-4 weeks) studies with no other treatment. We tested the long-term effects of C combined with a brief psycho-social intervention. After a 2-week baseline, mildly/moderately dependent alcoholics (35 males, 27 females) were randomized, double-blind to 12 weeks of C 40 mg/day (n = 31) or placebo (P) (n = 31) and a brief psycho-social intervention with follow-ups at 4 and 8 weeks post-treatment. Alcohol intake was monitored daily and alcohol dependence (ADS) and problems (MAST) were assessed at intake and post-treatment. During the first week, the decrease (%) from baseline daily alcoholic drinks (mean +/- SEM) was greater with C (47.9 +/- 5.1 from 6.5 +/- 0.6) than with P (26.1 +/- 4.2 from 5.8 +/- 0.4) (p < 0.01). However, the 12-week decreases with C (35.1%) and P (38.8%) were similar. There were gender differences within the C group. The males had higher MAST scores at intake (mean +/0 SEM = 10.4 +/- 0.8; n = 15) than the females (6.4 +/- 0.9, n = 16) (p < 0.01) and were slightly heavier drinkers during baseline (7.1 +/- 0.9 vs. 5.9 +/- 0.9 drinks/day, NS). The response to C was greater in males (44% decrease) than females (26%) (p < 0.05) and correlated with MAST scores (r = 0.44, p = 0.01), but not with baseline alcohol intake (r = 0.2, NS). Craving and liking for alcohol and alcohol dependence (ADS) and problems (MAST) decreased similarly with C and P (p < 0.01). Thus, the short-term effects of C were replicated but no long-term effect was detected. Tolerance to citalopram, perhaps through some adaptive neurobiological changes, may have developed. The potential therapeutic use of C as a useful pharmacological adjunct in alcoholics remains to be determined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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