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Alcohol abuse and related disorders treatment of alcohol dependence

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Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are the leading causes of worse health and increased mortality rates. Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of the global burden of diseases and a leading factor for lower lifespan and higher mortality. Alcohol abuse decreases working capacity and efficiency and requires the increased cost of the treatment of alcohol-induced disorders, which entails serious economic losses. The unfavorable medical and social consequences of excessive alcohol use determine the importance of effective treatment for alcoholism. The goals of rational pharmacotherapy of alcohol dependence are to enhance GABA neurotransmission, to suppress glutamate neurotransmission, to act on serotonin neurotransmission, to correct water-electrolyte balance, and to compensate for thiamine deficiency. Alcoholism treatment consists of two steps: 1) the prevention and treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome and its complications (withdrawal convulsions and delirium alcoholicum); 2) antirecurrent (maintenance) therapy. Benzodiazepines are the drugs of choice in alleviating alcohol withdrawal and preventing its convulsive attacks and delirium alcoholicum. Diazepam and chlordiazepoxide are most commonly used for this purpose; the safer drugs oxazepam and lorazepam are given to the elderly and patients with severe liver lesions. Anticonvulsants having normothymic properties, such as carbamazepine, valproic acid, topiramate, and lamotrigine, are a definite alternative to benzodiazepines. The traditional Russian clinical practice (clearance detoxification) has not a scientific base or significant impact on alcohol withdrawal-related states in addicts. Relapse prevention and maintenance therapy for alcohol dependence are performed using disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone; since 2013 the European Union member countries have been using, besides these agents, nalmefene that is being registered in Russia. Memantine and a number of other medications, including baclofen, gabapentin, pregabalin, ondansetron, modafinil, and aripiprazole, are able to decrease alcoholic needs and to alleviate the manifestations of alcohol dependence. The Russian narcological practice in using antipsychotics to suppress a craving for alcohol (as well as other psychoactive substances) contradicts the principles of evidence-based medicine and has no scientific base.

About the Author

Yu. P. Sivolap
Department of Psychiatry and Narcology, I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University Ministry of Health of Russia
Russian Federation

Moscow, Russia 8, Trubetskaya St., Build. 2, Moscow 119991


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For citations:

Sivolap Yu.P. Alcohol abuse and related disorders treatment of alcohol dependence. Neurology, Neuropsychiatry, Psychosomatics. 2014;6(3):4-9. (In Russ.)

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