Pharmacological Treatment of Bipolar Disorder with Comorbid Alcohol Use Disorder

Andrew Naglich, Bryon Adinoff, E. Sherwood Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Bipolar disorder (BD) spectrum and alcohol use disorders (AUDs) commonly occur together. Comorbidity between the two conditions predisposes patients to elevated risks of adverse outcomes, including hospitalization and suicide, compared with either condition alone. Despite the consistent relationship observed between BD and AUD, the underlying cause remains incompletely characterized. Few trials conducted have been able to identify promising interventions for patients with these disease states. The antipsychotic quetiapine has been evaluated most commonly as a therapeutic agent for patients with BD and AUD followed by naltrexone and acamprosate. Randomized controlled trials of quetiapine have consistently reported a lack of efficacy for the treatment of patients with BD and AUD. Trials of acamprosate have also been negative but small in size. Results of the sole randomized controlled trial of naltrexone have found large treatment effect sizes, but no statistically significant difference between treatment groups. Other agents including the antipsychotic aripiprazole, mood stabilizing agents including lamotrigine, lithium, and divalproex, and the antiepileptic agent topiramate have also been evaluated for the treatment of BD and AUD with mixed findings. The lone statistically significant treatment effect was observed in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial of divalproex added on to lithium which demonstrated a reduction in alcohol use. This review summarizes the available clinical evidence and current guideline recommendations for the treatment of comorbid BD and AUD, and provides discussion and recommendations based on the current literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-674
Number of pages10
JournalCNS Drugs
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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