Effects of cerebral electrical stimulation on alcoholism: a pilot study

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1995 Aug;19(4):1004-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1995.tb00981.x.


Cerebral electrical stimulation (CES), born from research on electroanesthesia in the seventies, consists of the application of a pulsating current of small intensity (usually less than 1 mA, and below the threshold of perception) through the skull, e.g., in daily 30-min sessions. Claims of biological effectiveness (neurochemical, hormonal and EEG changes, naloxone-reversible analgesia in rats, etc.) and of clinical effectiveness (anxiety, depression, cognitive functions in alcoholics) have often relied on poorly controlled data. A recent controlled study in the treatment of opiate withdrawal has been positive. The present double-blind controlled study compares active CES with sham stimulation in 64 alcohol-dependent males. Over 4 weeks, both treatment groups improved significantly in most aspects. In the active treatment group additional significant improvement was observed in week-end alcohol consumption, and in two psychological measures: depression and stress symptoms index, but not in general drinking behavior.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Pilot Projects
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation / instrumentation*
  • Treatment Outcome