Gabapentin, benzodiazepine combo safe for treatment of benzodiazepine withdrawal: Study
USA: Gabapentin and benzodiazepine combination is safe for the treatment of benzodiazepine withdrawal, according to findings from a recent study. The results were presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting (virtual meeting) held from May 1-3, 2021.
Gabapentin has been used as an adjunct treatment for alcohol withdrawal. Considering the similar mechanism shared by the two abusable substances (alcohol and benzodiazepine), gabapentin can also be used for patients undergoing benzodiazepine withdrawal.
Against the above background, Edison Leung, a second-year psychiatry resident at UT Health, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of gabapentin as an adjunct treatment for benzodiazepine withdrawal and dependence in patients treated for benzodiazepine withdrawal who were given gabapentin for anxiety or neuropathic pain.
The researchers screened patient records from a large inpatient psychiatric hospital. A total of 58 patients were identified who were given gabapentin and benzodiazepine for treatment of withdrawal. Additionally, 70 patients undergoing benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms but not given gabapentin served as the control arm of the study.
The researchers measured acute withdrawal symptoms by the Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol Scale score, and recorded gender, race, medications, length of stay, medical issues, and readmissions.
Key findings of the study include:
- A total daily dose of 600 mg to 1,800 mg of gabapentin reduced withdrawal symptoms.
- There were no reported complications with the combination of gabapentin and benzodiazepines in the patients.
- For patients undergoing benzodiazepine withdrawal, gabapentin as an adjunct to benzodiazepines reduces the hospital length of stay, the total dosage amount of benzodiazepines administered and the number of times benzodiazepines are administered.
"Overall, this is a promising new method to help patients undergoing benzodiazepine withdrawal to use less benzodiazepines in the treatment itself," Leung said.
Leung E, et al. Poster 4445. Presented at: American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 1-3, 2021 (virtual meeting).