A Pilot Trial of Prazosin, an Alpha-1 Adrenergic Antagonist, for Comorbid Alcohol Dependence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Abstract

Background:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol dependence (AD) commonly co-occur and are associated with greater symptom severity and costs than either disorder alone. No pharmacologic interventions have been found to decrease both alcohol use and PTSD symptom severity relative to matched placebo. Prazosin, an alpha-1 adrenoreceptor antagonist, has demonstrated the efficacy of reducing PTSD and AD symptoms among individuals with one or the other disorder and may be useful in addressing comorbid PTSD/AD.

Methods:

Prazosin and matched placebo were compared in the context of an outpatient 6-week double-blind randomized controlled pilot trial involving 30 individuals with comorbid PTSD/AD. Medication was titrated to 4 mg q am, 4 mg q pm and 8 mg qhs by the end of week 2. Participants in both conditions received 5 medical management sessions. Information regarding alcohol use, craving, and PTSD was gathered daily using a telephone interactive voice response system.

Results:

Participants randomized to prazosin had a greater reduction in percent days drinking per week and percent days heavy drinking per week between baseline and week 6 than did placebo participants. No significant differences were detected within or between groups in change from weeks 1 to 6 in total PTSD symptoms. Participants in the prazosin condition reported drowsiness on significantly more days than those in the placebo condition.

Conclusions:

Consistent with the extant research evaluating medications for comorbid PTSD/AD, the current evaluation of prazosin also found decreased alcohol consumption but no medication effect on PTSD symptomatology.

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