- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2004

A drug used to help prevent epileptic seizures can be beneficial in reducing alcohol dependency and the harmful psychosocial effects of drinking, according to a study in the September issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

The research team, led by Dr. Bankole A. Johnson of the department of psychiatry at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, said it already was known that the drug topiramate is “efficacious at both reducing craving and heavy drinking and improving abstinence among alcohol-dependent individuals.”

What was uncertain until this study, they said, was whether topiramate, which is taken orally and has the brand name Topamax, also results in an “appreciable improvement of quality in life” or a reduction in the ill effects that “pathological drinking” can have on one’s social, occupational or recreational activities.

Researchers found that it did.

“Topiramate’s effect at improving psychosocial function was robust, with an increasing trend toward better outcomes as treatment progressed,” researchers said.

The study included 150 men and women, ages 21 to 65, who were drinkers and had been diagnosed with alcohol dependency.

The women drank 21 or more “standard alcohol drinks” per week and men, 35 or more drinks per week, in the three months prior to enrollment. A standard alcohol drink was defined as a 12-ounce beer, a glass of wine or a shot of liquor.

During the study, participants treated with topiramate were 2 times more likely than those given placebo to report abstinence from alcohol. They also were nearly 2 times more likely to report overall satisfaction with life and more than twice as likely to experience enhanced well-being.

The analyses of the 150 test subjects also found that those on topiramate reported fewer instances of harmful drinking consequences than those receiving dummy pills.

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