Novel Agents for the Pharmacological Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder

Drugs. 2022 Feb;82(3):251-274. doi: 10.1007/s40265-021-01670-3. Epub 2022 Feb 8.


Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a highly prevalent but severely under-treated disorder, with only three widely-approved pharmacotherapies. Given that AUD is a very heterogeneous disorder, it is unlikely that one single medication will be effective for all individuals with an AUD. As such, there is a need to develop new, more effective, and diverse pharmacological treatment options for AUD with the hopes of increasing utilization and improving care. In this qualitative literature review, we discuss the efficacy, mechanism of action, and tolerability of approved, repurposed, and novel pharmacotherapies for the treatment of AUD with a clinical perspective. Pharmacotherapies discussed include: disulfiram, acamprosate, naltrexone, nalmefene, topiramate, gabapentin, varenicline, baclofen, sodium oxybate, aripiprazole, ondansetron, mifepristone, ibudilast, suvorexant, prazosin, doxazosin, N-acetylcysteine, GET73, ASP8062, ABT-436, PF-5190457, and cannabidiol. Overall, many repurposed and novel agents discussed in this review demonstrate clinical effectiveness and promise for the future of AUD treatment. Importantly, these medications also offer potential improvements towards the advancement of precision medicine and personalized treatment for the heterogeneous AUD population. However, there remains a great need to improve access to treatment, increase the menu of approved pharmacological treatments, and de-stigmatize and increase treatment-seeking for AUD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acamprosate
  • Alcohol Deterrents* / pharmacology
  • Alcohol Deterrents* / therapeutic use
  • Alcoholism* / drug therapy
  • Baclofen / therapeutic use
  • Disulfiram / pharmacology
  • Disulfiram / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Naltrexone / therapeutic use
  • Topiramate / therapeutic use


  • Alcohol Deterrents
  • Topiramate
  • Naltrexone
  • Baclofen
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram