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PTSD and comorbid AUD: a review of pharmacological and alternative treatment options

Authors Ralevski E, Olivera-Figueroa L, Petrakis I

Received 24 September 2013

Accepted for publication 7 November 2013

Published 7 March 2014 Volume 2014:5 Pages 25—36


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Elizabeth Ralevski, Lening A Olivera-Figueroa, Ismene Petrakis

Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT, USA

Background: Although posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorders (AUD) frequently co-occur there are no specific treatments for individuals diagnosed with these comorbid conditions. The main objectives of this paper are to review the literature on pharmacological options for PTSD and comorbid AUD, and to summarize promising behavioral and alternative interventions for those with these dual diagnoses.
Methods: We conducted a comprehensive search on PsycINFO and MEDLINE/PubMed databases using Medical Subject Headings terms in various combinations to identify articles that used pharmacotherapy for individuals with dual diagnoses of PTSD and AUD. Similar strategies were used to identify articles on behavioral and alternative treatments for AUD and PTSD. We identified and reviewed six studies that tested pharmacological treatments for patients with PTSD and comorbid AUD.
Results: The literature on treatment with US Food and Drug Administration approved medications for patients with dual diagnosis of PTSD and AUD is very limited and inconclusive. Promising evidence indicates that topiramate and prazosin may be effective in reducing PTSD and AUD symptoms in individuals with comorbidity. Seeking safety has had mixed efficacy in clinical trials. The efficacy of other behavioral and alternative treatments (mindfulness-based, yoga, and acupuncture) is more difficult to evaluate since the evidence comes from small, single studies without comparison groups.
Conclusion: There is a clear need for more systematic and rigorous study of pharmacological, behavioral, and alternative treatments for patients with dual diagnoses of PTSD and AUD.

Keywords: dual diagnosis, PTSD, AUD, pharmacotherapy

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