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Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: An Overview.

Joseph R. Volpicelli, MD, PhD

Published: January 6, 2001

Article Abstract

Alcoholism and alcohol abuse rank among the top 3 psychiatric disorders in the United States.These disorders are associated with significant medical and economic consequences. Furthermore, studies consistently show that an investment in addiction treatment leads to overall cost savings for society. Recent work has identified specific effects of alcohol on several neurotransmitter systems, including γ-aminobutyric acid, serotonin, dopamine, and the opioid receptors. These findings suggest that multiple pharmacologic interventions may be useful for the treatment of alcohol addiction. This article reviews the clinical use of naltrexone and discusses psychosocial programs to enhance treatment retention and adherence.

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