Pharmacotherapy for alcohol use dysfunction is underutilized in Sweden, finds examine

Solely a minority of Swedes with alcohol use problems are prescribed alcohol medicine, a state of affairs that has remained largely unchanged within the nation because the mid-2000. That’s in response to a examine at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet printed within the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Prescriptions of alcohol medicine are additionally erratically distributed within the society, the examine discovered.

“The consequence exhibits there’s a giant underutilization of alcohol medicine in addition to unequal provision of remedy between totally different teams in society,” says corresponding creator Sara Wallhed Finn, researcher on the Division of World Public Well being, Karolinska Institutet, and psychologist inside specialist care at Beroendecentrum Stockholm (Stockholm Heart for Dependency Issues, a regional dependancy middle). “That is problematic given the nice struggling brought on by alcohol use dysfunction, each for the person and for society at giant.”

The researchers say there are a number of believable explanations, equivalent to low information about these medication each amongst physicians and the sufferers, particularly past probably the most prescribed alcohol medicine Antabuse (Disulfiram). Another excuse could also be that the sufferers favor psychological remedy over medicine. In some circumstances, there can also be bodily limitations, equivalent to liver illness, that makes some sorts of drugs unsuitable.

There are a myriad of potential explanations that we have to proceed to discover to know why these accredited and efficient medication are used to such a small extent, particularly after we know that dangerous alcohol use will increase the chance of a number of illnesses and untimely dying.”

Sara Wallhed Finn, Researcher, Division of World Public Well being, Karolinska Institutet

Within the present examine, the researchers wished to look at the prescriptions of 4 accredited alcohol drugs (Disulfiram, Naltrexone, Acamprosate and Nalmefene) to people handled for alcohol use dysfunction. Greater than 130,000 adults who acquired a analysis of alcohol use dysfunction in specialist care between 2007 and 2015 had been included.

The examine confirmed that the proportion of people who collected prescriptions for alcohol medicine various between 22.8 and 23.9 %, and that the general stage didn’t change over the nine-year examine interval. The researchers additionally discovered particular person variations. For instance, alcohol medicine was prescribed at a decrease diploma to males, older people, people with decrease schooling and revenue ranges, individuals dwelling in midsized cities or rural areas and other people with co-morbid somatic illnesses.

“We all know little or no in regards to the causes of those particular person variations,” Sara Wallhed Finn says. “One purpose could also be that the entry to care varies throughout the nation, the place specialist dependancy care is essentially organized within the massive cities. An necessary discovering is that the prescription charges are particularly low for people with different somatic illnesses, even in circumstances the place the co-morbidity was not a barrier for prescribing alcohol medicine. That is one thing we have to examine additional to totally perceive.”

The researchers underscore that the examine solely included people handled for alcohol use dysfunction inside specialist care, and that the variety of people with alcohol issues within the basic inhabitants is way bigger. In whole, round 4 % of adults in Sweden are estimated to satisfy the standards for alcohol use dysfunction, however removed from everybody receives some type of remedy. This implies, in response to the researchers, that solely about 2–2.5 % of all people with alcohol dependence in Sweden obtain alcohol medicine.

The examine solely included knowledge from specialist care, which is a limitation given that just about half of all alcohol use dysfunction diagnoses are set in main care. The examine was additionally restricted to collected prescriptions; nevertheless, a previous examine confirmed giant consistency between prescribed and picked up prescriptions which helps the findings.

The analysis has been financed by grants from the Alcohol Analysis Council of the Swedish Alcohol Retailing Monopoly, ALF medication, Area Stockholm, Heart for Psychiatry Analysis, The Söderström König Basis and the Swedish Medical Affiliation.

Sara Wallhed Finn has written remedy manuals for alcohol use problems. No different conflicts of curiosity have been reported.

Alcohol drugs within the examine:

  • Disulfiram (bought underneath the commerce title Antabuse) was the only most prescribed drug, though its proportion of whole prescriptions declined through the examine interval in favor of Naltrexone.
  • Disulfiram makes it tougher for the physique to interrupt down alcohol and causes disagreeable signs when consuming alcohol. Naltrexone, however, impacts the mind’s reward system and inhibits emotions of well-being related to alcohol.
  • Nalmefene was launched in 2012 with a decrease advice from the Swedish Nationwide Board of Well being and Welfare for remedy for alcohol use dysfunction than the opposite medication. The drug acts by way of related mechanisms as these of Naltrexone and had the bottom variety of prescriptions within the examine.
  • Prescriptions of Acamprosate, which impacts chemical compounds within the mind to inhibit cravings, had been largely unchanged between 2007 and 2015.


Journal reference:

Finn, S.W., et al. (2021) Pharmacotherapy for alcohol use problems – unequal provision throughout sociodemographic components and co-morbid circumstances. A cohort examine of the whole inhabitants in Sweden. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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