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Heavy Drinkers Found to Reduce Drinking with Anti-Epilepsy Drug


New research shows that an anti-epilepsy drug may help heavy drinkers reduce their alcohol consumption, says HealthDay.

In a study that included 138 heavy drinkers, one half took the drug topiramate (Topamax) for 12 weeks at a maximum dose of 200 milligrams a day. The other half were given an inactive placebo. Both groups had brief counseling to help them decrease their drinking.

At the end of the 12-week study, placebo group patients were five times more likely to have had a heavy drinking day than those in the Topamax group. Also, compared to the placebo group, more than twice as many patients who took the drug had no heavy drinking days during the last four weeks of the study.

In a press release from the University of Pennsylvania, the study’s lead author, Henry R. Kranzler, MD, professor of Psychiatry, director of Penn’s Center for Studies of Addiction, says that the results represent an important next step in understanding and treating problem drinking. He added, “Our study is the first we are aware of in which topiramate was evaluated as a treatment option for patients who want to limit their drinking to safe levels, rather than stop drinking altogether.”

Researchers suggest that this could help lead to personalized treatments for heavy drinkers, as well as additional research to support patients who struggle with heavy drinking.

3 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of J C
    J C / February 21, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Here is another anti-epilepsy drug known to be utilized in a step down model towards abstinence for alcohol users on the DSM 5 spectrum of substance use disorders. Yes, further research will be conducted when the Bill going through the House of Representatives hits the desk in the oval office changing the Drug Czar’s policy to assist the AMA in this research.

  2. Reid K Hester, Ph.D. / February 20, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    And naltrexone has been found to reduce heavy drinking in drinkers interested in cutting back. And our is an effective approach also.

  3. Avatar of Gail Larsen
    Gail Larsen / February 20, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I have concerns: I have a sister with epilepsy taking Topomax, side effects of which have been severe depression and some cognitive impairment. These side effects concern me and I work in a behavioral health setting where others have reported similar results. Also, your article references the desire to keep alcohol consumption at safe levels. Does a safe level exist for someone who combines a powerful anti-convulsive medication with alcohol consumption?

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