Ninety-three cases of alcohol dependence following SSRI treatment
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BACKGROUND: There have been recent reports linking serotonin reuptake inhibitor use with increased alcohol consumption. A syndrome of alcoholism precipitated by a common treatment has clear implications for both research and treatment if it is a common phenomenon. OBJECTIVE: To explore the profile of people affected, and drugs that might trigger the syndrome. METHODS: We have selected reports to RxISK.org reporting the problem and cases linked to a blog posting outlining the syndrome and mined these for data on age, gender, drug of use, pattern of outcome on treatment, and impact of the problem. RESULTS: The data make it clear that all treatments with significant effects on the serotonin reuptake system are likely to cause this problem. Both sexes, and all ages are affected and reports have come from a range of countries. While stopping treatment can lead to the problem clearing, a failure to stop can result in death. CONCLUSIONS: SSRI induced alcoholism is likely to be a relatively common problem. Recognizing the problem can lead to a gratifying cure. A failure to recognize it can be fatal.
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