Subst Use Misuse. 2023 Jul 19:1-8. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2023.2236223. Online ahead of print.
Background/objectives: Patients hospitalized with alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) are typically treated with CIWA-directed benzodiazepines to prevent complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens. Gabapentin is an evidence-based alternative to benzodiazepines in the outpatient setting, but there is limited data for hospitalized patients with AWS. This study compared fixed-dose gabapentin to CIWA-directed benzodiazepines for AWS in the hospital setting. Methods: This open-label, randomized controlled trial enrolled 88 adults from February 1, 2017 to August 16, 2020 with a risk of complicated alcohol withdrawal as defined by the Prediction of Alcohol Withdrawal Severity Scale (PAWSS) ≥4. Patients were randomized within 16 h of admission to either fixed-dose gabapentin taper or continued CIWA-directed benzodiazepine administration. The primary outcome was the length of stay (LOS). Secondary outcomes included seizure, delirium tremens, ICU transfer, and patient-reported symptoms (alcohol cravings, anxiety, sleepiness). Results: LOS was shorter, but not statistically different in the gabapentin group compared to the benzodiazepine group. Because benzodiazepines were received in both gabapentin and benzodiazepine groups before randomization, the mean amount of benzodiazepines received in each group was also not statistically different, although the amount received by the gabapentin group was less than half of that received by the benzodiazepine group (4.3 vs. 10.6 mg, p = 0.146 by per protocol analysis). There were no statistical differences in secondary measures. Conclusions: Fixed-dose gabapentin taper showed similar outcomes compared to CIWA-directed benzodiazepines for the treatment of hospitalized patients with mild/moderate AWS, but the interpretation of the results is limited due to under-enrollment and the use of benzodiazepines in both groups pre-enrollment.Clinical trial registration: NCT03012815.