The drug topiramate helps reduce drinking and improves overall quality of life among patients with alcohol dependence, according to an article in the September issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
According to information in the article, topiramate (a drug used to help prevent seizures among patients with epilepsy) is effective at reducing craving and heavy drinking and improves abstinence among people with alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is associated with several harmful psychosocial consequences, including negative effects on social, occupational and recreational activities.
Bankole A. Johnson, M.D., Ph.D., of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and colleagues investigated whether topiramate could reduce the harmful psychosocial consequences associated with alcohol dependence and could improve quality of life.
The researchers recruited 150 alcohol-dependent individuals between the ages of 21 and 65 years old. Seventy-five participants received topiramate, and 75 received placebo over the course of twelve weeks (between 1998 and 2001). Three elements of psychosocial functioning were measured at the beginning of the study, and several times throughout the duration of the study: overall well-being and alcohol-dependence severity, quality of life, and harmful drinking consequences.
Averaged over the duration of the study, participants receiving topiramate were more than twice as likely to experience improved well-being than participants taking placebo. Participants receiving topiramate were also more than two and one half times more likely to report abstinence from alcohol, and were more than twice as likely to report overall satisfaction with life. They also reported fewer instances of harmful drinking consequences than participants receiving placebo.
"Our results show that topiramate is more effective than placebo at improving the quality of life and overall clinical condition and at reducing the severity of addiction and harmful consequences of heavy drinking," the authors write. "Topiramate's effect at improving psychosocial functioning was robust, with an increasing trend toward better outcomes as treatment progressed."