Drug-drug interactions in the treatment for alcohol use disorders: A comprehensive review

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Abstract

Drug interactions are one of the most common causes of side effects in polypharmacy. Alcoholics are a category of patients at high risk of pharmacological interactions, due to the presence of comorbidities, the concomitant intake of several medications and the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interferences of ethanol. However, the data available on this issue are limited. These reasons often frighten clinicians when prescribing appropriate pharmacological therapies for alcohol use disorder (AUD), where less than 15% of patients receive an appropriate treatment in the most severe forms. The data available in literature regarding the relevant drug–drug interactions of the medications currently approved in United States and in some European countries for the treatment of AUD (benzodiazepines, acamprosate, baclofen, disulfiram, nalmefene, naltrexone and sodium oxybate) are reviewed here. The class of benzodiazepines and disulfiram are involved in numerous pharmacological interactions, while they are not conspicuous for acamprosate. The other drugs are relatively safe for pharmacological interactions, excluding the opioid withdrawal syndrome caused by the combination of nalmefene or naltrexone with an opiate medication. The information obtained is designed to help clinicians in understanding and managing the pharmacological interactions in AUDs, especially in patients under multi-drug treatment, in order to reduce the risk of a negative interaction and to improve the treatment outcomes.

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