Effects of Cerebral Electrical Stimulation on Alcoholism: A Pilot Study
A. L. Padjen 1 2 , M. Dongier 1 , T. Malec 1
1 Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Alcohol Research Program. 2 Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Correspondence to A.L. Padjen, MD., D.Sc., Douglas Hospital Research Centre, Alcohol Research Program, Verdun, Que H4H lR3, Canada. tel. (514) 398-3603, fax (514) 398-4449, e-mail: alp@pharma2.pharma.mcgill.ca

This research was supported by a grant of the Entente auxiliaire Canada/Québec sur le dévelopment scientifique et technologique, Ministry of Science and Technology, Canada, Ministy of Commerce, and N-S Inc., Montreal. The support of Douglas Hospital Research Centre is also acknowledged.

Copyright 1995 The Research Society on Alcoholism
Alcohol Consumption • Cerebral Electrical Stimulation • Psychological Measures • Craving • Controlled Clinical Trial
Cerebral electrical stimulation (CES), born from research on electroanesthesia in the seventies, consists of the application of a pulsating current of small intensity (usually less than 1 mA, and below the threshold of perception) through the skull, e.g., in daily 30-min sessions.

Claims of biological effectiveness (neurochemical, hormonal and EEG changes, naloxone-reversible analgesia in rats, etc.) and of clinical effectiveness (anxiety, depression, cognitive functions in alcoholics) have often relied on poorly controlled data. A recent controlled study in the treatment of opiate withdrawal has been positive. The present double-blind controlled study compares active CES with sham stimulation in 64 alcohol-dependent males. Over 4 weeks, both treatment groups improved significantly in most aspects. In the active treatment group additional significant improvement was observed in week-end alcohol consumption, and in two psychological measures: depression and stress symptoms index, but not in general drinking behavior.