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Article
September 22, 1989

Lithium Treatment of Depressed and Nondepressed Alcoholics

Author Affiliations

From the Edward Hines, Jr, Hospital, Department of Veterans Affairs, Hines, III (Drs Dorus, Desai, and Malkerneker and Ms Schaefer); Department of Psychiatry, Loyola University of Chicago, Maywood, Ill (Dr Dorus and Ms Schaefer); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor (Dr Ostrow); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston (Dr Anton); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, Va, and Department of Psychiatry, New York University, New York (Dr Cushman); Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Perry Point, Md (Dr Collins); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dallas, Tex (Dr Charles); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Dr Hayashida); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Dr Willenbring); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, Baltimore (Dr Fiscella); and the Cooperative Studies Program, Clinical Research Pharmacy Coordinating Center, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Albuquerque, NM (Mr Sather).

From the Edward Hines, Jr, Hospital, Department of Veterans Affairs, Hines, III (Drs Dorus, Desai, and Malkerneker and Ms Schaefer); Department of Psychiatry, Loyola University of Chicago, Maywood, Ill (Dr Dorus and Ms Schaefer); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor (Dr Ostrow); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston (Dr Anton); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, Va, and Department of Psychiatry, New York University, New York (Dr Cushman); Cooperative Studies Program Coordinating Center, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Perry Point, Md (Dr Collins); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dallas, Tex (Dr Charles); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Dr Hayashida); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (Dr Willenbring); Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland, Baltimore (Dr Fiscella); and the Cooperative Studies Program, Clinical Research Pharmacy Coordinating Center, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Albuquerque, NM (Mr Sather).

JAMA. 1989;262(12):1646-1652. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430120100029
Abstract

We assessed the efficacy of lithium carbonate in the treatment of 457 male alcoholics in a double-blind, placebo-controlled Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study. Alcoholics either without depression or with a history of major depression, current major depression, or dysthymic disorder were studied. Two hundred eighty-six alcoholics without depression and 171 alcoholics with depression began the 52-week outpatient study; 172 alcoholics (60.1%) without depression and 108 alcoholics (63.2%) with depression completed the study. Among both all alcoholics who began the study and a subgroup who completed the study, no significant differences between alcoholics who took lithium and those who took placebo were found for the following outcome measures: number of alcoholics abstinent, number of days of drinking, number of alcohol-related hospitalizations, changes in rating of severity of alcoholism, and change in severity of depression. Similarly, no significant differences were found when only the 82 alcoholics compliant in taking lithium and the 89 alcoholics compliant in taking placebo were considered. In our study, lithium treatment did not affect the course of alcoholism in either depressed or nondepressed alcoholics.

(JAMA. 1989;262:1646-1652)

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