Tianeptine and alcohol dependence
Favre JD, Guelfi-Sozzi C, Delalleau B, Loo H.
Hopital d'Instruction des Armees Percy,
Service de Psychiatrie (Pr C. Doutheau), Clamart, France.
Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 1997 Oct;7 Suppl 3:S347-51.


Several arguments are in favour of the use of antidepressant drugs in alcohol-dependent patients, especially those acting on the serotoninergic system: (1) neurochemical data indicate the interaction between alcohol and 5-HT metabolism, (2) pharmacological studies show an improvement in the behaviour of alcoholized animals treated with antidepressants, (3) depression is a frequent disease in alcoholic patients. Tianeptine has been shown to be active in the treatment of depression in patients with history of alcohol abuse or dependence. In a first double-blind study performed versus amitryptiline, depression after withdrawal was improved by tianeptine, and biological abnormalities usually related to chronic alcohol intake tended to decrease. Similar results were found in an open study carried out on 277 alcoholic patients treated for 1 year. As these patients were depressed, no definite conclusion could be drawn from these results in respect of a specific action of tianeptine on alcohol dependence. Thus, a multicentre double-blind study has been performed which compared tianeptine (12.5 mg t.i.d) and placebo in 342 non-depressed patients fulfilling DSM-III-R criteria for Psychoactive Substance Dependence (alcohol). Other inclusion criteria were: daily alcohol intake higher than 80 g, minimum score of 3 on the Short-Mast Questionnaire, mean corpuscular volume above 98 fl and/or gamma Gt more than twice the upper limit of normal. The patients were treated for 9 months. The intention-to-treat population and the per protocol population were made up of 327 patients and 111 patients, respectively. The main efficacy criterion was the absence of alcoholic relapse (abstinence) defined by the patient's statements, the investigators clinical judgement and some biological parameters: alcohol blood levels, gamma Gt levels. Secondary criteria were the evolution of the alcohol consumption in the patients who relapsed, cumulative abstinence duration, a visual analogue scale for the evaluation of the appetence for alcohol and the clinical global impressions scale. The statistical analysis showed no difference between both groups in respect of the maintenance of abstinence (intention-to-treat and per protocol populations). In spite of the methodological problems of the studies in dependence (choice of the inclusion and efficacy criteria, especially), the preliminary results obtained with the serotoninergic antidepressants were not confirmed in the different trials performed in the maintenance of alcohol abstinence. The indication of tianeptine should be restricted to the treatment of depressive syndromes, which have a high lifetime prevalence in the alcoholic patient, and which have a noticeable role on the alcoholic relapse.

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Ultra-high dose psychostimulant effect
Antidepressant comparisons: SSRIs v tianeptine

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