REVIEW
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Baclofen for alcohol withdrawal.

BACKGROUND: Baclofen shows potential for rapidly reducing symptoms of severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) in people with alcoholism. Treatment with baclofen is easy to manage and rarely produces euphoria or other pleasant effects, or craving for the drug. This is an updated version of the original Cochrane Review published in 2015, Issue 4.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the efficacy and safety of baclofen for people with AWS.

SEARCH METHODS: We updated our searches of the following databases to March 2017: the Cochrane Drugs and Alcohol Group Specialised Register, CENTRAL, PubMed, Embase, and CINAHL. We also searched registers of ongoing trials. We handsearched the references quoted in the identified trials, and sought information from researchers, pharmaceutical companies, and relevant trial authors about unpublished or uncompleted trials. We placed no restrictions on language.

SELECTION CRITERIA: We included all randomised controlled clinical trials (RCTs) evaluating baclofen versus placebo or any other treatment for people with AWS. We excluded uncontrolled, non-randomised, or quasi-randomised trials. We included both parallel group and cross-over studies.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We used standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane.

MAIN RESULTS: We included three RCTs with 141 randomised participants. We did not perform meta-analyses due to the different control interventions. For the comparison of baclofen and placebo (1 study, 31 participants), there was no significant difference in Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol Scale, Revised (CIWA-Ar) scores (very low quality evidence). For the comparison of baclofen and diazepam (1 study, 37 participants), there was no significant difference in CIWA-Ar scores (very low quality evidence), adverse events (risk difference (RD) 0.00, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.10 to 0.10; very low quality evidence), dropouts (RD 0.00, 95% CI -0.10 to 0.10; very low quality evidence), and dropouts due to adverse events (RD 0.00, 95% CI -0.10 to 0.10; very low quality evidence). For the comparison of baclofen and chlordiazepoxide (1 study, 60 participants), there was no significant difference in CIWA-Ar scores (mean difference (MD) 1.00, 95% CI 0.70 to 1.30; very low quality evidence), global improvement (MD 0.10, 95% CI -0.03 to 0.23; very low quality evidence), adverse events (RD 2.50, 95% CI 0.88 to 7.10; very low quality of evidence), dropouts (RD 0.00, 95% CI -0.06 to 0.06; very low quality evidence), and dropouts due to adverse events (RD 0.00, 95% CI -0.06 to 0.06; very low quality evidence).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: No conclusions can be drawn about the efficacy and safety of baclofen for the management of alcohol withdrawal because we found insufficient and very low quality evidence.

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