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Alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drinking, alcohol seeking, loss of control over alcohol consumption, and impaired social and occupational functioning. Treatment of Alcohol Dependence (AD) comprises two steps, detoxification and relapse prevention (RP). Traditionally, long half-life benzodiazepines have been the most widely used agents for alcohol detoxification. On the other hand, disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate are the three drugs that have been approved for relapse prevention. In the last decades, nevertheless, there is a growing interest in the use of anticonvulsant drugs in the management of both, detoxification and relapse prevention of alcohol.
To review the different pharmacological strategies in which an anticonvulsant was used in the management of AD.
We searched in MEDLINE and in the Cochrane Database System Review, selecting all studies from 1980 until present, in which a pharmacological intervention with anticonvulsant agents was made for alcohol detoxification or RP.
The most tested anticonvulsant drugs are the classical Carbamazepine and Valproate. Both have demonstrated to be efficacious in Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome and RP. However, the use of these agents has been limited by their hepatic and hematologic toxicity. Novel anticonvulsants such as Gabapentin, Pregabalin, Topiramate, Oxcarbazepine and Zonisamide have also been found to be effective, with the advantage of rapid onset of action, lower toxicity and fewer side effects.
Anticonvulsants are efficacious and safe agents in the management of AD. Further randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are warranted to increase the evidence of the use of these agents.
Pathological gambling is often considered a behavioral addiction. Attentional bias (AB) refers to the observation that substance-related cues tend to grab the attention of experienced substance users. The Dot Probe Task has been used to assess AB in individuals with substance addiction, however it has never been used to assess AB in PG.
The aims of the present study are assessing potential AB in PG using Dot Probe Task with exposures time that assess attentional maintenance checking the possible correlation of PG severity with degree of attentional bias.
PG sample was 23 subjects and Non Gamblers group (NG) was 21 subjects. To asses the severity of gambling we use the South Oaks Gambling Screen. We can define two types of reaction times to assess the AB: a) Congruence time: time the subject takes to detect the point when it appears on the hemi-screen replacing the cue picture. b) Non-congruence time: idem when replacing the neutral picture. The difference between these times is the AB index.
The PG had a congruence time significantly lower than the non-congruence time which indicates the presence of AB in this group. There were also differences between AB index in PG and NG sample, validating the Dot Probe task to detect AB. Moreover, there weren’t relation between the severity of the game and AB.
The study shows the presence of AB in PG at level of maintenance of attention (disengagement) and the validity of Dot Probe Task to detect AB in PG.
It is well known that impulsivity and stress are risk factors for the development of addictive disorders, and more specifically alcohol dependence. Impulsivity has two dimensions: behavioural inhibition and delay of reward. The Fear- Conditioning paradigm of the Startle response (SR), which refers to the potentiation of the startle amplitude after the exposure to aversive stimulus, can be used as a stress test. The aim of this study was to explore the correlation between impulsivity laboratory tasks and the Fear-Conditioning (FC) paradigm of the SR as risk factors for the development of alcohol dependence.
The sample included 40 abstinent alcoholic men, who met DSM-IV criteria for Alcohol Dependence and had been abstinent for at least one month. Impulsivity was assessed using two laboratory tests: Stop-Signal Task (SST) and Differential Reinforcement for Low-Rate Responding (DRL6). The FC paradigm of the SR was used as a stress test. Patients were compared to 40 matched controls.
We found a positive correlation between SST tasks and the FC paradigm of the SR (p < 0,05) and a negative correlation between the DRL6 tasks and the FC paradigm of the SR (p < 0,05) in the patient's group. This significant correlation was not found in controls.
Impulsivity and stress are significantly correlated in alcohol dependent patients. This means that while healthy subjects cope with stress, alcohol dependent patients react with higher impulsivity when they are exposed to stress situations and this could lead them to drink alcohol to relieve anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Pathological Gambling (PG) tends to be a heterogeneous disorder where patients differ with type and severity of gambling behaviour, psychiatric co-morbidity, family history, sex and age of onset. Age of disease onset in PG varies significantly, with many individuals having onset during childhood and adolescence and others in various stages of adulthood. Previous studies have demonstrated that age of onset is an important characteristic for a better understanding of the PG heterogeneity.
(1) To analyze differences in sociodemographic aspects between early-onset PG and non early-onset PG, (2) to study whether early-onset PG is associated with specific psychiatric diagnosis in axis I and II.
We used data from a large and nationally representative community sample of United States (US) adults, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). We selected age 25 years as a threshold for early-onset PG.
Individuals with early-onset PG were more likely to be male, never married, and young and to have a lower education level and individual income than non early-onset PGs. Early-onset PG were less likely to have mood disorder (OR = 0.42 (0.19 − 0.94)) and had non-significant higher odds of having substance and anxiety disorders than non early-onset. The odds of having Cluster B disorder were significantly higher among early-onset PGs than non early-onset PGs (OR = 4.11 (1,77 − 9.55)).
Our findings support that subgroups of Pathological Gambling defined by onset age have phenotypic differences.
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