Aripiprazole effects on alcohol consumption and subjective reports in a clinical laboratory paradigm--possible influence of self-control.Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2008 Nov; 32(11):1954-61.AC
There has been increasing interest in the use of medications that affect the dopamine receptor in the treatment of alcoholism. Aripiprazole has the unique pharmacology of being a partial dopamine agonist serving to stabilize brain dopamine systems in both frontal cortical and subcortical areas. As such, it might act to dampen alcohol reinforcement and craving and/or alter control over alcohol use. The current clinical laboratory study was conducted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of aripiprazole as a potential agent to alter drinking and objective effects of alcohol.
Thirty nontreatment seeking alcoholics were enrolled in a subacute human laboratory study and received double-blind treatment with up to 15 mg of aripiprazole (n = 15) or identical placebo (n = 15) for 8 days. Tolerability and utility of aripiprazole was monitored during natural drinking over the first 6 days of medication treatment and also during a free choice limited access alcohol consumption paradigm following an initial drink of alcohol in a bar-lab setting on Day 8.
Aripiprazole was well tolerated and reduced drinking in nontreatment seeking alcoholics over 6 days of natural drinking--especially in those with lower self control (more impulsive). It also reduced drinks in the bar-lab after a priming drink and broke the link between priming drink induced stimulation and further drinking. During the bar-lab drinking session, there were no differences in subjective high, intoxication, or craving between subjects treated with aripiprazole or placebo.
This study joins several others in demonstrating the utility of subacute dosing laboratory paradigms for evaluating medication effects in alcoholics. Aripiprazole was well tolerated and lowered alcohol use, especially in those with lower impulse control. Further study is needed to determine the safety and utility of aripiprazole in the treatment of alcoholism and if subgroups of alcoholics are more likely to respond.