Quetiapine for the treatment of alcoholism: Scientific rationale and review of the literature


Lara A. Ray, PhD, Assistant Professor, Andia Heydari, Research Assistant, Todd Zorick MD, Clinical Instructor. Dr. Lara A. Ray, Department of Psychology, University of California, 1285 Franz Hall, Box 951563, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1563, USA. Tel: 301-794-5383; Fax: 310-207-5895; E-mail: lararay@psych.ucla.edu


Issues. The development of effective treatments for alcohol use disorders represents an important public health concern. Quetiapine, a multiple receptor antagonist at 5-HT1A and 5-HT2A, dopamine D1 and D2, histamine H1, and adrenergic α1 and α2 receptors, is an atypical antipsychotic medication that has recently shown promise for the treatment of alcoholism. Approach. This manuscript reviews the rationale and empirical literature suggesting that quetiapine may be useful for the treatment of alcohol use disorders, including a discussion of its putative neurobiological and biobehavioural mechanisms of action. Key Findings. The effects of quetiapine on drinking outcomes may be due to its effects on mood, anxiety and sleep, which may help alleviate protracted withdrawal symptoms and address psychiatric comorbidities often associated with alcohol use disorders. Implications. These findings have implications to treatment development for alcoholism and suggest that the scientific study of quetiapine for alcoholism warrants further resources and attention. Conclusion. Quetiapine has advanced as a potentially promising pharmacotherapy for alcoholism. Additional research is needed to more clearly ascertain its clinical utility as a stand-alone treatment for this indication, as well as to identify patients who are more likely to respond favourably to this medication.[Ray LA, Heydari A, Zorick T. Quetiapine for the treatment of alcoholism: Scientific rationale and review of the literature. Drug Alcohol Rev 2010]