Alcohol Use Disorder – Evidence Based Recommendations for Diagnosis and Pharmacotherapy

Posted on:January 14, 2022
Last Updated: November 10, 2023
Time to read: 17–21 minutes

Alcohol use remains one of the top 10 global risk factors for illness and disease. It affects males more than females and is responsible for around 5.9% of deaths worldwide (7.6% of men, 4.0% of women). Other health conditions associated with alcohol-related deaths include cardiovascular disease and diabetes (33.4%), injuries (17.1%), gastrointestinal illnesses (16.2%) and cancers (12.5%). [Rehm and Imtiaz 2016], [WHO 2018]

Alcohol use disorder is the most common cause of death in men under 50, with heavy drinking and alcohol dependence causing the most significant burdens of harm. [Nutt, 2019]

In 2018, Kranzler and Soyka did a multi-year literature search to determine which pharmacological therapies were most used and which were most effective at treating alcohol use disorder. Meta-analyses were prioritised, and randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were selected where data on medication effects were poor or absent. A total of 81 relevant articles were reviewed. This article summarises the evidence along with current recommendations on pharmacotherapy in AUD. [Kranzler and Soyka, 2018]

We have previously covered the neurobiology of AUD.