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Clinical conditions and central dopamine metabolism in alcoholics during acute withdrawal under treatment with different pharmacological agents

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A group of 45 male alcoholics were studied during acute withdrawal. Patients were kept in hospital and treated with amobarbital (15 patients), oxazepam (15 patients), and melperone (15 patients) respectively in a double-blind design. Clinical symptoms were rated with a modified version of the Comprehensive Psychopathological Rating Scale after 1, 4 and 7 days. Blood pressure, body temperature and pulse rate were also recorded. Lumbar cerebrospinal fluid was collected after 1 and 7 days. A group of healthy males served as controls. The three treatment groups showed only small differences with regard to the investigated clinical items, except for a higher incidence of epileptic fits being evidenced in the melperone group. Levels of HVA in the cerebrospinal fluid did not differ between the treatment groups and the controls and did not change during treatment. Statistically significant correlations were noted between levels of HVA and auditory and visual hallucinations as well as concentration difficulties. Assuming that HVA levels reflect the activity of the central nervous dopamine system, the findings indicate a connection between central dopamine metabolism, psychotic symptoms and possibly other symptoms during acute alcohol withdrawal in man.

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Borg, S., Kvande, H. & Valverius, P. Clinical conditions and central dopamine metabolism in alcoholics during acute withdrawal under treatment with different pharmacological agents. Psychopharmacologia 88, 12–17 (1986).

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