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Open AccessReview

A Brief Up-Date of the Use of Sodium Oxybate for the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder

Department of Internal Medicine, SS Annunziata Hospital, Cento, Ferrara 44042, Italy
“G. Fontana” Centre for the Study and Multidisciplinary Treatment of Alcohol Addiction, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Bologna, Bologna 40130, Italy
Unit for Addiction Treatment, Department of Mental Health, Lugo, Ravenna 48022, Italy
Alcohol Use Disorders Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, Catholic University of Rome, Rome 00168, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Icro Maremmani
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(3), 290;
Received: 22 December 2015 / Revised: 8 February 2016 / Accepted: 23 February 2016 / Published: 5 March 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Treating Alcoholism between Harm Reduction and Immediate Abstinence)
The treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD) with sodium oxybate (SMO) or gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) was introduced in Italy and Austria more than 20 years and 15 years ago, respectively, and it is now widely employed to treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) and to maintain alcohol abstinence. These indications derive from its similar structure to the inhibitory neurotransmitter γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA), exerting an ethanol-mimicking effect, because it binds to GABAB receptors. Craving for, and abuse of, SMO remain a controversial issue; even though these unfavorable effects are evident in poly-drug addicted patients and in those with psychiatric diagnosis of borderline personality disorder. In addition, despite cases of severe intoxication and deaths being widely documented when GHB is used as “street drug”; its clinical use remains safe. Thus, the aim of the present review is to examine the role of SMO in the treatment of AUD, its possible implications in reducing alcohol consumption, and cases of abuse, and severe intoxication due to SMO during its clinical use in the treatment of AUD. View Full-Text
Keywords: alcohol use disorder; pharmacological treatment; sodium oxybate alcohol use disorder; pharmacological treatment; sodium oxybate
MDPI and ACS Style

Caputo, F.; Vignoli, T.; Tarli, C.; Domenicali, M.; Zoli, G.; Bernardi, M.; Addolorato, G. A Brief Up-Date of the Use of Sodium Oxybate for the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 290.

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