The use of gabapentin in acute alcohol withdrawal

Levine AR, et al. High-Dose Gabapentin for the Treatment of Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: A Retrospective Cohort Analysis. Pharmacotherapy. 2019 Sep;39(9):881-888.

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MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: “Patients who received high-dose gabapentin required a significantly lower overall amount of benzodiazepines (mean ± SD 109.5 ± 53.4 mg vs 88.5 ± 35.6 mg [lorazepam equivalents], p=0.023) and had a significantly lower mean CIWA-Ar score (10.1 ± 4.7 vs 7.7 ± 3.9, p=0.010) and maximum CIWA-Ar score (16.0 ± 7.0 vs 12.6 ± 6.1, p=0.016) on day 3 of hospitalization. The high-dose gabapentin regimen was well tolerated, without an increased risk of oversedation, compared with the control group (Richmond Agitation-Sedation Scale score < -1: 34% in the treatment group vs 20% in the control group, p=0.115). Patients receiving high-dose gabapentin had a shorter length of hospital stay (7.4 ± 4.0 days vs 6.0 ± 2.6 days, p=0.034) and increased likelihood of being discharged home (66% vs 88%, p=0.009) compared with the control group.”


Mason BJ, Quello S, Goodell V, Shadan F, Kyle M, Begovic A. Gabapentin treatment for alcohol dependence: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Jan;174(1):70-7.

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Results: “Gabapentin significantly improved the rates of abstinence and no heavy drinking. The abstinence rate was 4.1% (95% CI, 1.1%-13.7%) in the placebo group, 11.1% (95% CI, 5.2%-22.2%) in the 900-mg group, and 17.0% (95% CI, 8.9%-30.1%) in the 1800-mg group (P = .04 for linear dose effect; number needed to treat [NNT] = 8 for 1800 mg). The no heavy drinking rate was 22.5% (95% CI, 13.6%-37.2%) in the placebo group, 29.6% (95% CI, 19.1%-42.8%) in the 900-mg group, and 44.7% (95% CI, 31.4%-58.8%) in the 1800-mg group (P = .02 for linear dose effect; NNT = 5 for 1800 mg). Similar linear dose effects were obtained with measures of mood (F2 = 7.37; P = .001), sleep (F2 = 136; P < .001), and craving (F2 = 3.56; P = .03). There were no serious drug-related adverse events, and terminations owing to adverse events (9 of 150 participants), time in the study (mean [SD], 9.1 [3.8] weeks), and rate of study completion (85 of 150 participants) did not differ among groups.”


Myrick H, Malcolm R, Randall PK, Boyle E, Anton RF, Becker HC, Randall CL. A double- blind trial of gabapentin versus lorazepam in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2009 Sep;33(9):1582-8.

Full-text for Emory users.

DBT_Gabapentin for AW

Figure 1. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms: CIWA‐Ar score over time. Comparisons: GBP 900mg versus 1200mg: t=5.83, p=0.019. GBP 900mg versus lorazepam: not significant. GBP 1200mg versus lorazepam: t=6.86, p=0.011. *Baseline CIWA‐Ar score used as a covariate in the analysis.


More PubMed results on gabapentin for alcohol withdrawal.

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