A drug now used to treat epilepsy has been shown to be effective against alcoholism, according to a new clinical trial detailed on the LiveScience
Alcoholics who took gabapentin, an anticonvulsant drug
, were more likely to stop drinking or drink less than those taking a placebo, the study found. They also slept better, had improved mood, and fewer alcohol cravings, with few side effects.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 18 million Americans have alcohol-use disorders. Just three
for alcohol dependence have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The new study showed gabapentin showed similar or greater positive outcomes compared with these existing treatments, said study researcher Barbara Mason, of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.
"Plus, it's the only medication shown to improve sleep and mood in people who are quitting or reducing their drinking, and it's already widely used in primary care — that's an appealing combination," Mason explained in a statement.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the NIH, funded the study. It was detailed in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.