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Bio Statement Clinical Trial Indicates Gabapentin Is Safe And Powerful For Treating Alcohol Dependence

The generic drug gabapentin, which is already extensively prescribed for epilepsy and some types of discomfort, appears to be safe and powerful in the remedy of alcohol dependence. The locating comes from a 150-patient randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind clinical trial carried out by scientists at the Scripps Analysis Institute (TSRI).

bigstock-Pills-In-Hand-50162660.jpg“Gabapentin’s impact on drinking outcomes is at least as huge or higher than those of existing FDA-authorized therapies,” stated Barbara J. Mason, Pearson Household Professor and co-director of the Pearson Center for Alcoholism and Addiction Study at TSRI, who led the new analysis. “Plus it’s the only medication shown to improve sleep and mood in people today who are quitting or reducing their drinking , and it’s currently extensively applied in major care—that’s an appealing combination.”

The new investigation was published on line ahead of print by the journal JAMA Internal Medicine on November four, 2013.

Lowering Cravings, Depression, Sleeplessness

As a comparatively protected, effective and nicely-tolerated drug, gabapentin has the potential to fill a substantial gap in the therapy of alcohol dependence. About eight and a half-million Americans are believed to have the condition, but each and every year only a tiny fraction of them are prescribed a single of the FDA-approved drugs for alcohol dependence, due in part to the limitations of the current drugs made use of for treatment.

The lack of remedy is striking in light of alcoholism ’s massive adverse effect on society. In alcohol addiction to its other effects on the lives of folks and their households, alcoholism promotes cancer, liver disease, strokes and heart attacks, as properly as a variety of other disabilities. Worldwide, about a single out of 25 deaths is attributable to alcohol misuse.

In the new study, Mason and her colleagues randomly assigned each of 150 not too long ago abstinent people today with alcohol dependence to be treated with 900 mg or 1,800 mg of gabapentin or with a look-alike placebo. Over 12 weeks of therapy, the high-dose group ended up refraining from heavy drinking twice as normally as the placebo group (45% vs. 23%) and entirely abstained 4 times as normally (17% vs. four%). alcohol addiction lowered the number of drinks consumed, as effectively as patient reports of cravings, depression and sleeplessness. None of the treated patients reported serious side effects.

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Sufferers who received the decrease, 900-mg dose of gabapentin showed intermediate rewards compared to the higher-dose group, probably reflecting what clinicians contact a “dose-response effect”—a fantastic indication that the therapy really is operating.

“I think that we can now have confidence in the pharmacological effect of this drug,” Mason mentioned.

Filling a Gap

Two FDA-authorized therapies for alcohol dependence have been about for decades. The very first, disulfiram (Antabuse®), interferes with the body’s standard enzymatic breakdown of alcohol, making drinking an unpleasant practical experience. The second, naltrexone (ReVia®, Vivitrol®), blocks the opioid brain-cell receptors that aid mediate the sense of reward for the duration of drinking .

Each treatment options aim to blunt the pleasure-in search of motivation that assists initiate alcohol dependence. But they are comparatively ineffective against the anxiousness, depression, sleeplessness and other protracted withdrawal symptoms that enable sustain alcoholism when it has been established. They are also, by design and style, somewhat unpleasant—which generally discourages individuals from employing them.

A newer drug, acamprosate (Campral®), the only other medication approved by FDA for alcoholism remedy, does aim to normalize dysregulation in brain stress systems following acute withdrawal, similar to gabapentin. But it has shown only modest advantages on the whole in clinical trials, with no efficacy noted for mood or sleep.


Gabapentin has a favorable safety profile and seems to work by normalizing levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in an emotion-mediating component of the brain called the amygdala, thereby minimizing anxiousness and other tension-associated withdrawal symptoms. A preceding, proof-of-concept study of gabapentin by Mason’s group also discovered effects like these reported in this study in patients with cannabis dependence.

Gabapentin’s quieting effect on overactive brain regions has led to its approval by the FDA for treating epilepsy and neuropathic discomfort. It is also now widely prescribed “off-label” for other discomfort-related situations, such as migraines.

“I’m excited about alcohol addiction that now a lot more people will get remedy,” mentioned Mason. “We seriously require to do a lot more about treating alcohol dependence.”

Other contributors to the study, “Gabapentin Therapy for Alcohol Dependence: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” have been Susan Quello and Vivian Goodell of TSRI and physicians Farhad Shadan, Mark Kyle and Adnan Begovic of the Scripps Clinic and Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California. For more facts, see

The study was supported by funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grant R37AA014028), a Merit Award to Dr. alcoholic from the National Institutes of Wellness.