The pharmacotherapy of alcohol dependence: a state of the art review

Mens Sana Monogr. 2010 Jan;8(1):69-82. doi: 10.4103/0973-1229.58820.


The psychopharmacology of alcohol dependence is today poised at interesting crossroads. Three major drugs Naltrexone, Disulfiram and Acamprosate have been tried and tested in various trials and have many meta-analyses each to support them. While Naltrexone may reduce craving, Acamprosate scores on cost effectiveness worldwide with Disulfiram being an alcohol deterrent drug. Studies support, refute and criticize the use of each of these drugs. Combining one or more of them is also a trend seen. The most important factor in efficacy has been the combination of psychosocial treatment with medication. Studies from the early 1970s to date have been reviewed and the findings presented in a manner useful for the busy clinician to judge the best pharmacological option in the management of alcohol dependence. The role of depot disulfiram, naltrexone, and medications like Topiramate and SSRIs under research for alcohol dependence, are also addressed.

Keywords: Acamprosate; Alcohol Dependence; Disulfiram; Naltrexone; Psychopharmacology; SSRIs; Topiramate.