Topiramate is approved to treat
seizures. Some information has suggested that this drug may also decrease heavy drinking days in people with
alcohol dependence. More studies need to be done to confirm this effect and understand any risks of this type of treatment. Until more research is confirmed, the use of topiramate for people with alcohol dependence is considered an off-label use.
Researchers from the department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia wanted to examine the drug’s impact on alcohol addiction. In the study, published in the
Archives of Internal Medicine, the researchers found that patients treated with topiramate had better psychological and quality of life outcomes.
The randomized, controlled study followed 150 people with alcohol dependence. The people were split into two groups. One received topiramate and the other group received a placebo. Both groups received regular adherence enhancement therapy. The patients were evaluated at the beginning and end of the 14-week study. Compared to the placebo group, the people given the topiramate therapy:
- Had reduced body mass
- Had fewer obsessional thoughts and compulsions about alcohol
- Had increased psychological well-being
- had increased some aspects of quality of life
- Had better liver enzymes, plasma cholesterol levels, and blood pressure
Side effects such as paresthesia (odd skin sensations), taste perversion,
anorexia, and difficulty with concentration were reported more frequently in the topiramate group.
There are many psychological, social, and physiological aspects of addiction. Topiramate has shown promise in assisting in the recovery process, however it has not been fully approved for this treatment. More studies and investigations need to be done to confirm its benefits and understand the risks associated with the use of this drug.
If you have alcohol dependence problems talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Johnson BA, Rosenthal N, Capece JA, et al. Improvement of physical health and quality of life of alcohol-dependent individuals with topiramate treatment: US multisite randomized controlled trial.
Arch Intern Med. 2008 Jun 9;168(11):1188-1199.
Last reviewed August 2008 by Larissa J. Lucas, MD
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