Objective: Gabapentin (GBP) and pregabalin (PGB) have been used to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD) and alcohol withdrawal, but with inconsistent results. In this meta-analysis, we explored the effects of GBP/PGB treatment on AUD and their effects on withdrawal, craving, depression, and sleep disturbance in AUD patients. Methods: We carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing the effects of GBP/PGB on AUD with those of a placebo or control treatment. Electronic databases were searched for relevant articles published before September 2019. The primary outcome was defined as the efficacy measure on achieving abstinence or reducing alcohol consumption in a hierarchical order. We included 16 studies in our meta-analysis. Results: Overall, GBP had no significant benefit comparing to placebo or control treatment (Hedges' g = 0.0725, p = 0.6743). For specific alcohol-related outcome, GBP had significant effect on percentage of heavy drink (Hedges' g = 0.5478, p = 0.0441) and alcohol withdrawal symptoms (Hedges' g = 0.2475, p = 0.0425). GBP/PGB did not have significant beneficial effect on craving, depressive symptoms, or sleep disturbance. Instability was shown in sensitivity analyses of some above results. Conclusions: GBP may be helpful to reduce AUD patients' heavy drinking behavior and withdrawal, but more studies are needed for drawing conclusions.
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