Pharmacological treatment of insomnia in alcohol recovery: A systematic review

Bhanu Prakash Kolla, Meghna Prabhdas Mansukhani, Terry Schneekloth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Aims: To conduct a systematic review of pharmacological agents used to treat sleep problems in alcohol recovery. Methods: In accordance with the Quorum statement, we searched PubMed, EMBASE, Psych Info and Medline databases using the terms alcohol, insomnia/sleep and treatment/management with no year/language restrictions. Results: The search revealed 1239 articles and 20 met inclusion criteria. Trazodone was compared against placebo and found to be superior in two trials. Trazodone and gabapentin improved sleep measures with gabapentin performing significantly better in an open-label study. The data regarding gabapentin are equivocal with few studies showing a clear benefit. In one randomized trial, topiramate resulted in improved subjective sleep measures and a reduction in the percentage of heavy drinking days. Two randomized control trials of carbamazepine revealed improvement in subjective sleep measures. A randomized study showed lormetazepam was better than zopiclone on some measures. In a small placebo-controlled trial, acamprosate was found to result in improvements on some sleep measures. In single, small, mostly open-label studies, quetiapine, triazolam, ritanserin, bright light and magnesium have shown efficacy, while chlormethiazole, scopolamine and melperone showed no difference or worsening. Conclusion: Trazodone has the most data suggesting efficacy. This finding is tempered by a study suggesting its association with a return to heavy drinking in some patients. Data regarding the efficacy of gabapentin are unclear at this point.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberagr073
Pages (from-to)578-585
Number of pages8
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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