Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Benzodiazepines effective against alcohol withdrawal seizures

31.08.2005


Tranquilizers work better than placebos at treating the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome but they may not work better than other drugs, according to a new review of recent studies.



The class of depressant drugs known as benzodiazepines are especially effective at treating seizure in withdrawal patients, say Dr. Christos Ntais of the University of Ioannina School of Medicine in Greece and colleagues. People given benzodiazepines were 84 percent less likely to have withdrawal-related seizures compared to those given placebos.

“This might suggest that their [benzodiazepines’] current status as first-line treatment for alcohol withdrawal syndrome is justified,” Ntais and colleagues say.


However, the researchers found no evidence that benzodiazepines are any better than other drugs used for treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome or that there are any differences between types of benzodiazepines for withdrawal treatment.

“There was no conclusive evidence or even hints for superiority of specific drugs, but modest differences could have been missed due to limited data,” Ntais says.

Among the commonly known benzodiazepines are Halcion, Versed, Librium, Xanax and Valium.

In a second review, Dr. Anastasia Polycarpou, also of the University of Ioannina School of Medicine, and colleagues found some evidence that anticonvulsant drugs such as carbamazepine (Epitol or Tegretol, for example) are more effective than placebo at treating alcohol withdrawal, but the difference was not statistically significant.

The reviews appear in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

Alcoholics can go through withdrawal when they stop or cut back on their drinking. Symptoms of withdrawal can include everything from insomnia, sweating and rapid heart beat to nausea, seizures and hallucinations. The most severe form of withdrawal syndrome is called delirium tremens.

Alcohol addiction affects certain neurotransmitter circuits in the brain, and the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal reflect the brain’s attempt to readjust those circuits. Benzodiazepines act on one particular type of circuit called GABA pathways.

Ntais and colleagues examined 57 studies of benzodiazepine treatment for 4,051 people. Polycarpou and colleagues analyzed 48 studies of anticonvulsant treatment for 3,610 people. Although the number of studies is relatively high for systematic reviews, the studies had a large variety of outcomes and measurements that made it difficult to combine and analyze the data as a whole, according to both review teams.

Although not all of the studies reported side effects from the drugs, deaths and serious complications from the treatments appear to be rare, the reviewers say.

“The extremely small mortality rate in all these studies is reassuring, but data on other harms-related outcomes are sparse and fragmented,” Ntais says.

Sarah Book, a professor at the Medical University of South Carolina who has studied the effects of both benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants for alcohol withdrawal, says there may be other reasons to be cautious about benzodiazepine treatment.

“In general, benzodiazepines have the potential to increase the risk of [alcoholic] relapse,” Book says.

Book also says “the combination of alcohol and benzodiazepines can be deadly,” a problem that does not occur with anticonvulsants, she adds.

According to Book, the majority of benzodiazepine prescriptions for withdrawal are made on an outpatient basis, with little opportunity to monitor a patient’s continued drinking.

The Cochrane reviews were supported by the European Community, Directorate of Public Health.

Ntais C, Pakos E, Kyzas P, Ioannidis JPA. Benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 3.

Polycarpou A, Papanikolaou P, Ioannidis JPA,Contopoulos-Ioannidis DG. Anticonvulsants for alcohol withdrawal. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2005, Issue 3.

The Cochrane Collaboration is an international nonprofit, independent organization that produces and disseminates systematic reviews of health care interventions and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of interventions.

Christos Ntais | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cochrane.org
http://www.hbns.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Do microplastics harbour additional risks by colonization with harmful bacteria?
05.04.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model

19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Electromagnetic wizardry: Wireless power transfer enhanced by backward signal

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Ultrafast electron oscillation and dephasing monitored by attosecond light source

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>