Introduction: Sodium oxybate (SMO) has been shown to be safe and effective in the treatment of patients with alcohol use disorders (AUDs); it was approved in Italy and Austria for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome and for relapse prevention. The focus of this review is to discuss the clinical evidence on the therapeutic potential of SMO for AUDs. Areas covered: This review covers the studies in patients with alcohol withdrawal syndrome who received SMO for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms and the studies in patients with AUDs who received SMO to achieve total alcohol abstinence, reduction of alcohol intake, and relapse prevention. Relevant medical literature on SMO was identified by searching databases including MEDLINE and EMBASE (searches last updated 20 September 2013), bibliographies from published literature, clinical trial registries/databases, and websites. Expert opinion: SMO has proved safe and effective in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome and in the prevention of relapses. Craving for and abuse of SMO have been reported, in particular in some subtypes of alcoholic patients, e.g., those affected by co-addiction and/or psychiatric comorbidity. Future multicenter, multinational, randomized clinical trials should be useful to optimize the treatments in relation with patients' characteristics, for example, pharmacogenetic, neurobiological, and psychological.
- alcohol dependence