Pharmacotherapy of alcohol use disorders and concurrent psychiatric disorders: a review

Can J Psychiatry. 2012 Jun;57(6):342-9. doi: 10.1177/070674371205700603.


Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are among the most prevalent psychiatric disorders. Epidemiologic studies have shown a high prevalence of concurrent psychiatric disorders among people with AUDs as well as a higher prevalence of AUDs in people with psychiatric disorders than in the general population. Though psychiatric patients with concurrent AUDs are at increased risk for morbidity and mortality, they are commonly undertreated for their alcohol-related disorders. The efficacy of pharmacotherapy for AUDs is well documented. Our paper reviews the common pharmacotherapies available for AUDs and focuses on the available research regarding treatment of AUDs among psychiatric populations with mood, anxiety, and psychotic disorders. Despite the high prevalence of concurrent AUDs and psychiatric disorders, very limited information has been collected using a randomized controlled trial design targeting those concurrent conditions. Several prevalent psychiatric disorders have not been studied when co-occurring with AUDs. Further research of pharmacological treatments for concurrent AUDs and psychiatric diagnoses is urgently needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Deterrents / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Deterrents / therapeutic use*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Comorbidity
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Mood Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Mood Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Psychotropic Drugs / adverse effects
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Alcohol Deterrents
  • Psychotropic Drugs