From the March 1990 magazine.

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research, and Treatment

Lithium Use Without Impact

Many of these items are contrary to AA philosophy. Their publication here does not mean that the Grapevine endorses or approves them; they are offered solely for your information.

The largest study to date on the use of lithium to treat depressed and non-depressed alcoholics has shown the treatment had no impact on the course of the alcoholism in either group. The United States Department of Veterans Affairs' cooperative study looked at male veterans hospitalized for treatment of alcoholism in seven US hospitals. A total of 268 non-depressed alcoholics and 171 with depression began a one-year outpatient study in which they either received lithium carbonate or a placebo. Sixty percent of patients without depression and 63% of those with depression completed the study. No significant differences were found for a number of outcome measures between those taking lithium and those taking placebo. "Lithium was not effective in either depressed or non-depressed alcoholics in reducing the number of individuals who failed to remain abstinent, number of days of drinking alcoholics reported, number of alcohol-related hospitalizations, or severity of alcoholism," the study notes. The researchers say the study was the first evaluation of lithium with a large enough number of subjects to show statistically the efficacy of the drug.

-- Journal of the American Medical Ass

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