Psychopharmacology

, Volume 184, Issue 1, pp 115–121

Galantamine: a cholinergic patch in the treatment of alcoholism: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial

  • K. Mann
  • K. Ackermann
  • A. Diehl
  • D. Ebert
  • G. Mundle
  • H. Nakovics
  • T. Reker
  • G. Richter
  • L. G. Schmidt
  • M. Driessen
  • K. Rettig
  • K. Opitz
  • B. Croissant
Original Investigation

Abstract

Objectives

The involvement of the central cholinergic system in alcohol abuse behavior is well known. It is possible that the reinforcing effects of ethanol are partially mediated by nicotinic receptors, which modulate neurotransmitter release. It was demonstrated that the application of a cholinesterase inhibitor reduces alcohol consumption in alcohol-preferring rats. This suggests that galantamine (GAL), a cholinesterase inhibitor, could be effective when seeking to prolong abstinence in recently detoxified alcoholics. This study represents the first reported clinical trial of a cholinergic drug in alcohol-relapse prevention.

Patients and methods

We investigated the efficacy and safety of GAL by conducting a 24-week randomized, placebo-controlled, multicentric clinical trial on 149 recently detoxified alcoholics. Survival analyses (Kaplan–Meier) were performed to reveal evidence of prolonged abstinence periods in patients who received GAL.

Results

Our findings did not support our hypothesis. GAL did not extend the time to first severe relapse. However, additional post hoc analyses suggest that relapsed patients treated with GAL consume less ethanol per drinking day than patients treated with placebo.

Conclusions

GAL seems to be ineffective when used in relapse prevention of detoxified alcoholics. It is possible that alcohol needs to be “on board” for GAL to be beneficial. This could explain why our post hoc analysis showed that GAL possibly reduces the alcohol consumption of relapsers. If confirmed, GAL could play a role in the reduction of harmful alcohol use and at-risk consumption.

Keywords

Galantamine Alcohol dependence Harmful use Relapse prevention Cholinergic system 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Mann
    • 1
  • K. Ackermann
    • 1
  • A. Diehl
    • 1
  • D. Ebert
    • 2
  • G. Mundle
    • 3
  • H. Nakovics
    • 1
  • T. Reker
    • 4
  • G. Richter
    • 5
  • L. G. Schmidt
    • 6
  • M. Driessen
    • 7
  • K. Rettig
    • 8
  • K. Opitz
    • 9
  • B. Croissant
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Addictive Behaviour and Addiction Medicine, Central Institute of Mental HealthUniversity of HeidelbergMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and PsychotherapyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Oberbergklinik Baden-Württemberg Addiction Research ConsortiumHornbergGermany
  4. 4.Director of Westfälische Klinik MünsterFriedrich-Wilhelm-WeberMünsterGermany
  5. 5.Hospital AngermuendeAngermuendeGermany
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryJohannes Gutenberg-Universität MainzMainzGermany
  7. 7.Centre of Psychiatry and Psychological MedicineGilead Hospital BethelBielefeldGermany
  8. 8.Bureau of Evaluation and Quality Assurance in MedicineMeerbuschGermany
  9. 9.MünsterGermany

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