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Possible new ways in the pharmacological treatment of bipolar disorder and comorbid alcoholism

Authors Azorin J, Bowden CL, Garay R, Perugi G, Vieta E, Young AH

Published 3 March 2010 Volume 2010:6(1) Pages 37—46


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Jean-Michel Azorin1, Charles L Bowden2, Ricardo P Garay3, Giulio Perugi4, Eduard Vieta5, Allan H Young6

1Department of Psychiatry, CHU Sainte Marguerite, Marseilles, France; 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX, USA; 3CNRS-UMR 8162, Université Paris-Sud, and Hôpital Marie Lannelongue, Le Plessis-Robinson, France; 4Vincent P Dole Dual Diagnosis Team, Santa Chiara and University Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Italy; 5Clinical Institute of Neuroscience, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, IDIBAPS, CIBER -SAM, Barcelona, Spain; 6Institute of Mental Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Abstract: About half of all bipolar patients have an alcohol abuse problem at some point of their lifetime. However, only one randomized, controlled trial of pharmacotherapy (valproate) in this patient population was published as of 2006. Therefore, we reviewed clinical trials in this indication of the last four years (using mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, and other drugs). Priority was given to randomized trials, comparing drugs with placebo or active comparator. Published studies were found through systematic database search (PubMed, Scirus, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Science Direct). In these last four years, the only randomized, clinically relevant study in bipolar patients with comorbid alcoholism is that of Brown and colleagues (2008) showing that quetiapine therapy decreased depressive symptoms in the early weeks of use, without modifying alcohol use. Several other open-label trials have been generally positive and support the efficacy and tolerability of agents from different classes in this patient population. Valproate efficacy to reduce excessive alcohol consumption in bipolar patients was confirmed and new controlled studies revealed its therapeutic benefit to prevent relapse in newly abstinent alcoholics and to improve alcohol hallucinosis. Topiramate deserves to be investigated in bipolar patients with comorbid alcoholism since this compound effectively improves physical health and quality of life of alcohol-dependent individuals. In conclusion, randomized, controlled research is still needed to provide guidelines for possible use of valproate and other agents in patients with a dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and substance abuse or dependence.

Keywords: bipolar disease, alcohol, alcoholism, comorbidity, valproate

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