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Minerva Medica 2014 December;105(6):447-66

lingua: Inglese

Treatment of alcohol dependence: recent progress and reduction of consumption

Testino G. 1, Leone S. 2, Borro P. 1

1 Centro Alcologico Regionale, Regione Liguria, IRCCS AOU San Martino‑IST, Genoa, Italy;
2 University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy


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Alcohol dependence (AD) is a major public health problem. Currently, three drugs for the treatment of AD have been approved by both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): acamprosate, disulfiram, and oral naltrexone. The FDA also approved the use of long-acting injectable naltrexone. In Austria and in Italy sodium oxybate is also approved. The EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use has recently granted marketing authorization for nalmefene for the reduction of alcohol consumption. Many patients, while accepting the problem, are unable or unwilling to completely stop consuming alcohol, leading to an inevitable deterioration over time of their psycho-physical state, and social and family relationships. It is appropriate to offer these patients the opportunity to significantly reduce their consumption of alcohol. The reduction may be an opportunity to prepare the individual for achieving complete abstinence. Abstinence should always be the main goal. Currently, nalmefene is the only drug that has been authorized for the reduction of alcohol consumption. Its association with psycho-social support is mandatory; it is taken on an “as-needed” basis, which should preferably be 1-2 hours before the possible intake of alcohol. The trials showed a significant reduction in alcohol consumption, which resulted in a significant reduction in morbidity and mortality. Reducing consumption allows a decrease in the progression of numerous alcohol-induced chronic diseases, as well as a reduction in psycho-physical damage, acts of violence, motor vehicle accidents, and accidents at work, which in turn means fewer healthcare costs.

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gianni.testino@hsanmartino.it