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The Use of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in Treating Alcoholic Subtypes

Helen M. Pettinati, PhD

Published: January 6, 2001

Article Abstract

The usefulness of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat alcohol dependencecontinues to be a subject of debate. Most recently, investigations have tried to predict whether agiven patient will respond to SSRIs in terms of reducing excessive alcohol drinking. The subtypingof alcohol-dependent individuals has ranged from relatively simple classifications (e.g., presence ofcomorbid depression) to more complex classifications (e.g., potential to have abnormalities in serotonin[5-HT] neurotransmission). Although only a few studies have been completed, results thus farindicate that alcoholic subgroups are differentially responsive to 5-HT pharmacotherapy with respectto drinking-related outcomes. In addition, there are preliminary results encouraging the use ofSSRIs in combination with other medications for treating alcohol dependence in patients with andwithout comorbid psychiatric disorders. Information from these studies is promising, suggesting theneed for further investigation.

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