Fed Pract. 2023 Apr;40(4):128-133. doi: 10.12788/fp.0362. Epub 2023 Apr 20.
BACKGROUND: Benzodiazepines are considered the gold standard for treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS), a group of symptoms that occur after abrupt cessation of alcohol use, but may be associated with serious adverse effects. Given the safety concerns, alternative treatment options for AWS management have been investigated, including gabapentin and baclofen. Because no available studies have investigated the inpatient use of the gabapentin and baclofen combination for alcohol detoxification, this study aims to evaluate their efficacy and safety in the inpatient hospital setting.
METHODS: This retrospective cohort study at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, Illinois, included patients who were aged ≥ 18 years and who were admitted to the general acute medicine floor for the primary indication of AWS from January 1, 2014, to July 31, 2021. The primary outcome was the length of stay, defined as hours from admission to either discharge or 36 hours with a Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol (CIWA) score ≤ 8. Electronic health records were reviewed to collect CIWA scores, alcohol withdrawal seizure and delirium tremens incidence, rates of conversions from gabapentin/baclofen to lorazepam, rates of transitions to a higher level of care, and readmission for AWS within 30 days.
RESULTS: Mean length of stay in the gabapentin/baclofen group was statistically significantly shorter compared with the benzodiazepine group (42.6 vs 82.5 hours, P < .001). The study found no significant difference between the gabapentin/baclofen and benzodiazepine groups in AWS readmission, adjuvant medications for AWS management, and number of patients who transitioned to a higher level of care. Overall, the safety of gabapentin/baclofen vs benzodiazepine were comparable; however, 1 patient experienced a seizure, and 1 patient experienced delirium tremens during admission in the benzodiazepine group.
CONCLUSIONS: Gabapentin/baclofen combination seems to be an effective and safe alternative to benzodiazepines and may be considered for managing mild AWS in hospitalized patients, but additional research is needed to examine this regimen.