A drug once used to treat high blood pressure can help alcoholics with withdrawal symptoms reduce or eliminate their drinking, Yale University researchers report Nov. 19 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
In a double-blind study, researchers gave the drug prazosin or a placebo to 100 people entering outpatient treatment after being diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. All of the patients had experienced varying degrees of withdrawal symptoms prior to entering treatment.
According to the researchers, subjects with more severe symptoms — including shakes, heightened cravings and anxiety, and difficulty sleeping — who received prazosin significantly reduced the number of heavy drinking episodes and days they drank compared to those who received a placebo. The drug had little effect on those with few or no withdrawal symptoms.
“There has been no treatment readily available for people who experience severe withdrawal symptoms and these are the people at highest risk