Gabapentin is a generic anticonvulsant drug currently used to treat seizures and some types of pain. It may also be useful in the treatment of alcohol-use disorder (AUD). A 2013 study showed that gabapentin helped increase abstinence rates in 150 heavy drinkers.  In conjunction with short individual weekly counseling sessions, gabapentin was found to be more effective than placebo in helping the alcohol dependent participants to stop or decrease their drinking. It also helped to treat some of the symptoms that may lead people to relapse: insomnia, dysphoria, and craving. The researchers who conducted the study state that larger studies in more diverse populations are needed in order to confirm and expand upon their findings.

New Study Underway

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has announced that a six-month clinical trial to study the safety and efficacy of gabapentin enacarbil is now underway. NIAAA will enroll 346 patients in a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of gabapentin enacarbil in patients with AUD at 10 sites across the United States. More information on this study>

Gabapentin enacarbil, an extended-release formulation of the generic drug gabapentin, is currently sold as Horizant and is used to treat restless leg syndrome and certain types of nerve pain.  It is hoped that this long-acting form of gabapentin, which is better absorbed into the bloodstream, will be even more successful in treating AUD.

One of the limitations of the 2013 gabapentin study was that the participants had to take the medication 3 times a day and would sometimes forget to take the middle dose.  The extended release form, which only needs to be taken twice a day since it stays evenly in the bloodstream longer, may help circumvent that problem.

 

Further study is needed to determine gabapentin’s efficacy in treating AUD.

Learn more: Drugs.com- Gabapentin

Learn more: NIH Announces New Study

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