Anticonvulsant Agents for the Management of Benzodiazepine Dependence
Área/s de conocimientoPsicología
Introduction Chronic use of Benzodiazepines (BZDs) can lead to tolerance and dependence, as indicated by a BZD Withdrawal Syndrome (BWS). In general, it is preferred a gradual than an abrupt tapering of BZDs as a first step in the treatment of BZD Dependence (BD). In addition, a great variety of agents have been used as adjuvant medication for BD. Recently, research has focused in the use of Anticonvulsant (AC) drugs. The aim of this article is to review the use of AC in the management of BWS and BD. Methods MEDLINE and the Cochrane were searched, selecting studies from 1980 until 2014, in which a pharmacological intervention with classic and new AC was made for discontinuing long-term BZD use. Results In regard to classic AC, there were identified 10 studies related to carbamazepine and 4 studies related to valproate. On one hand, whereas there is a great body of research involving carbamazepine and there is a consensus about its efficacy for discontinuing long-term BZD use, especially in terms of improving drug-free outcomes, there have been brought inconclusive results in regard to valproate. On the other hand, studies identified of the new AC are as follows: 2 for gabapentin, 2 for oxcarbazepine, 2 for pregabalin, 1 for tigabine and 2 for topiramate. With the exception of pregabalin, only small studies and cases report have been conducted for most of the new AC. Pregabalin has demonstrated to be effective in the treatment of BD and BWS, exerting its beneficial action by reducing the severity of withdrawal and anxiety symptoms. Conclusion To date, among AC agents, only carbamazepine and pregabalin can be considered as augmentation alternatives for the treatment of long-term BZD use. Further randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are necessary to increase the knowledge to support the use of AC for the treatment of BD and BWS.