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Epilepsy medicine may curb craving for alcohol

August 23, 2004|From Reuters

Treatment with the anti-epilepsy drug Topamax (topiramate) appears to reduce alcohol craving and drinking in alcoholic adults, new research suggests.

Unlike existing drugs for alcohol dependence that are started only when alcohol use stops, Topamax can be given before the patient abstains, said Dr. Bankole A. Johnson of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Topamax "can be used to treat alcoholics at a point of crisis while they are still drinking, so this allows people to be treated earlier, when it is needed the most," Johnson said.

Topamax is unique in that it targets two chemical pathways that are believed to underlie alcohol's rewarding effects, Johnson explains in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Throughout the 12-week study, Topamax was much more effective than a placebo in curbing craving and drinking. At the end of the study, the Topamax group had 2.88 fewer drinks per day, 27.6% fewer heavy-drinking days and 26.2% more days abstinent contrasted with the placebo group.

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