Current and potential pharmacological treatment options for insomnia in patients with alcohol use disorder in recovery

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Neuropsychopharmacol Rep


Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is characterized by dysfunction in motivational, mood-stress regulation, and sleep systems that interact in complex ways to heighten the risk of relapse during abstinence. Emerging data suggest that excessive and chronic alcohol use disrupts sleep homeostasis and, in abstinence, subjects with AUD are known to experience insomnia that may persist for weeks to years, which we propose to refer to as insomnia associated with alcohol cessation (IAAC). The purpose of this review is to provide an update of pharmacological approaches to therapy including compounds in development, to raise awareness of the prevalence of and unmet need in IAAC and highlight differences in treatment consideration for IAAC as compared to insomnia disorder. We performed a search of select electronic databases to identify studies of pharmacological agents used to treat sleep disturbances in abstinent or treatment-seeking patients with alcohol use disorder. The search, conducted in June 2019 and updated in December 2019, yielded 1,188 abstracts after duplicates were removed, of which 36 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility. Eighteen studies were included, 15 randomized controlled trials and three open-label studies. Several classes of medications including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and antipsychotics have been evaluated for their effectiveness in treating sleep disturbances in abstinent or treatment-seeking patients with AUD. None of these medications are approved by the FDA for the treatment of IAAC, and the currently available evidence for these agents is limited. Randomized, controlled clinical trials are warranted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of medications in the treatment of IAAC.

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print