Gabapentin vs Chlordiazepoxide for Ambulatory Alcohol Withdrawal


A randomized, double-blind controlled trial comparing treatment outcomes between chlordiazepoxide, or gabapentin to treat alcohol withdrawal syndrome in alcohol dependent veteran subjects. The objective of this trial is to compare the safety and effectiveness of these two medications. Intervention is a fixed dose taper of chlordiazepoxide, or gabapentin over 6 days. Subjects will be evaluated for 7-10 days to monitor alcohol abstinence, withdrawal severity scores, adverse events including ataxia, sedation, cognitive function and alcohol craving.

Full Title of Study: “Comparison of Chlordiazepoxide and Gabapentin for Outpatient Alcohol Detoxification Treatment”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: August 2010

Detailed Description

Chlordiazepoxide 25 mg and matching placebo capsules or gabapentin 300 mg and matching placebo capsules were were used. The chlordiazepoxide/placebo and gabapentin/placebo capsules were not identical in appearance. Study medications were packaged into a 7-day medication organizer. The dosing for each subject was either gabapentin 1200mg or chlordiazepoxide 100 mg orally days 1-3, gabapentin 900 mg or chlordiazepoxide 75 mg day 4, gabapentin 600 mg or chlordiazepoxide 50 mg day 5, and gabapentin 300 mg or chlordiazepoxide 25 mg day 6. Adherence was assessed by pill counts and serum samples were obtained for study drug analysis. Serum samples were batched and sent to a contract laboratory so that study clinicians were blinded to the results until after the trial was completed. Presence of the assigned study medication in the blood served as a surrogate adherence marker. Subjects also received prescriptions for daily oral therapeutic multiple vitamin tablets, folic acid 1 mg, and thiamine 100 mg. A psychiatric history and physical examination, breath alcohol concentration, vital signs, CIWA-Ar (alcohol withdrawal scale), and blood chemistry including transaminases and complete blood cell count were obtained for baseline for all participants. Subjects were seen on weekdays for clinic follow-up appointments. Assessments performed at each study visit included CIWA-Ar, ESS (Epworth Sleepiness Scale), PACS (Penn Alcohol Craving Scale), and a brief examination to document mental status and assess coordination, which included assessment of stance, tandem gait, Romberg test, pronator drift, toe and heel walk, rapid-alternating-movements, and point-to-point movements. Breath alcohol concentration (BAC) was also measured (AlcoSensor, Intoximeters, Inc.) at each visit.


  • Drug: Chlordiazepoxide
    • 25mg four times daily x 3 days then tapered over 3 days
  • Drug: Gabapentin
    • 300mg four times daily x 3 days then tapered over 3 days

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Active Comparator: Chlordiazepoxide
    • Chlordiazepoxide 25mg capsule or matching placebo capsule
  • Experimental: Gabapentin
    • Gabapentin 300mg capsule or matching placebo capsule

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS)
    • Time Frame: 1 week
    • ESS is an 8 item-scale and scores range between 0 and 24. The higher the score implies more daytime sleepiness.
  • PENN Alcohol Craving Scale
    • Time Frame: 1 week
    • PENN is a 5 item self-rated scale of alcohol craving. Scores range from 0 (little craving for alcohol) to 30 (irresistable urge to drink alcohol)

Secondary Measures

  • Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment-Alcohol (Revised)(CIWA-Ar)
    • Time Frame: 1 week
    • CIWA-Ar measures severity of 10 observed or measured alcohol withdrawal signs or symptoms. Total score ranges from 0 (best possible outcome)-67 (worst possible outcome). Many previously publications suggest a total score of 8-10 is severe enough to warrant medication treatment. Lower scores (0-8) represent fewer withdrawal symptoms and less severity, scores > 8 represent more withdrawal symptoms and greater severity

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • Alcohol dependent at risk for withdrawal symptoms Exclusion Criteria:

  • Benzodiazepine dependent

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: 80 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • VA Salt Lake City Health Care System
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Christopher J. Stock, PharmD, Investigational pharmacist – VA Salt Lake City Health Care System
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Christopher J Stock, PharmD, Principal Investigator, Salt Lake VA Health Care System

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