Conference Coverage

Alcohol dependence drug the next antianxiety med?



Humanity’s most common affliction

Commenting for this news organization, Roger McIntyre, MD, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology, University of Toronto, and head of the mood disorders psychopharmacology unit, noted that there is a “renewed interest in psychiatry in excitatory and inhibitory balance – for example, ketamine represents a treatment that facilitates excitatory activity, while neurosteroids are candidate medicines now for inhibitory activity.”

Dr. McIntyre, who is the chairman and executive director of the Brain and Cognitive Discover Foundation, Toronto, and was not involved with the study, said it is believed “that the excitatory-inhibitory balance may be relevant to brain health and disease.”

Dr. McIntyre also pointed out that the study “highlights not only the repurposing of a well-known medicine but also exploit[s] the potential brain therapeutic effects of immune targets that indirectly affect inhibitory systems, resulting in potentially a safer treatment for anxiety – the most common affliction of humanity.”

Also commenting for this article, Wilfrid Noel Raby, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist in private practice in Teaneck, N.J., called disulfiram “grossly underused for alcohol use disorders and even more so when people use alcohol and cocaine.”

Dr. Raby, who was not involved with the study, has found that patients withdrawing from cocaine, cannabis, or stimulants “can respond very well to disulfiram [not only] in terms of their cravings but also in terms of mood stabilization and anxiolysis.”

He has also found that for patients with bipolar disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder with depression disulfiram and low-dose lithium “can provide anxiolysis and mood stabilization, especially if a rapid effect is required, usually within a week.”

However, Dr. Raby cautioned that “it is probably not advisable to maintain patients on disulfiram for periods long than 3 months consecutively because there is a risk of neuropathy and hepatopathology that are not common but are seen often enough.” He usually interrupts treatment for a month and then resumes if necessary.

The research was partially supported by the Tsukuba Clinical Research and Development Organization from the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development. The authors and Dr. Raby have disclosed no relevant financial relationships. Dr. McIntyre reports receiving research grant support from CIHR/GACD/National Natural Science Foundation of China; speaker/consultation fees from Lundbeck, Janssen, Alkermes, Mitsubishi Tanabe, Purdue, Pfizer, Otsuka, Takeda, Neurocrine, Sunovion, Bausch Health, Axsome, Novo Nordisk, Kris, Sanofi, Eisai, Intra-Cellular, NewBridge Pharmaceuticals, AbbVie, and Atai Life Sciences. Dr. McIntyre is CEO of Braxia Scientific.

A version of this article first appeared on


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