Topamax or topiramate (toe PEER ah mate) has been used to treat epilepsy (anti-convulsant) and migraine headaches. Recent research has shown that it can also help with addiction including alcoholism. Topamax works by inhibiting mesocorticolimbic dopamine release in the brain which researchers believe is associated with craving for alcohol.
In one study of actively drinking patients with alcohol dependence, Topamax was more effective than a placebo in initiating abstinence. In fact patients averaged 26 percent more abstinent days with Topamax. Patients taking Topamax also had fewer reported total drinking days, 27.6 percent fewer heavy drinking days, 2.88 fewer drinks per day on the days they drank, and 2-3 times the number of days in which they were totally abstinent from alcohol.
With many alcoholism medications the patient must be abstinent before taking the medications. An advantage of Topamax is that it can be used to treat alcoholics while they are still drinking which means the treatment can more than likely start earlier than it would with another medication.
Topamax (Topiramate) has not yet been approved by the FDA for use with Alcoholism and further research is currently being done. Nonetheless, many have already tried Topamax, after ordering it on the internet, and have reported good results. On the MyWayOut.org discussion forums we found these comments:
Wow, last friday I had my first drink in one week. When you do drink you don’t drink to get drunk. I didn’t even think about it. After a party I realized my drink had lasted 3 hours. I can’t say enough good things about Topamax. It has honestly saved my life.
Topamax has helped me rid myself of a lot of the obsessive/compulsive behaviour of drinking: the counting of the beers, how many are left, how many I can drink and not be hung over, how many hours I can sleep and still function in the morning.
I have gone from drinking anywhere from 6-10 beers or the big bottle of wine 4-5 nights per week to only drinking 1-2 nights per week about half as much on those nights. Every now and then I over do it and feel guilty, but the strenth I feel from this medication is amazing.
Keep in mind that Topamax does have side effects. It is nicknamed Dopamax or Stupamax because of the effect it can have on your memory and critical thinking. Some users experience a deja vu effect.
Topomax producer Ortho-McNeil Neurologics, Inc. also launched an educational campaign to alert doctors and pharmacists of the potential for mistaking its product, TOPAMAX(R) (topiramate) tablets and TOPROL-XL(R)* (metroprolol succinate) extended-release tablets. TOPROL-XL is a beta-blocker approved to treat high blood pressure, angina and heart failure, and is marketed by AstraZeneca LP.
There have been reports of patients receiving TOPAMAX instead of TOPROL-XL, or vice versa. These reports document prescriptions for TOPAMAX and TOPROL-XL that have been incorrectly written, interpreted, labeled and/or dispensed, leading to patients getting the wrong medication.
Patients who receive the incorrect medication obviously risk experiencing potentially serious health consequences. Make sure your doctor knows the difference between the two drugs and make sure to check that you are receiving the correct medication.
Topamax is also the subject of a class action lawsuit because it may have caused birth defects when taken by some patients for epileptic seizures.