Early-onset alcoholism, a subtype of alcohol dependence, is characterized
by early age of onset, antisocial behaviors, and serotonergic dysfunction.
Johnson and colleaguesArticle conducted a trial to determine whether patients with
early-onset (before age 25 years) alcoholism would have a different response
to treatment with ondansetron, a serotonin receptor antagonist, than patients
with late-onset alcoholism. Among patients with early-onset alcoholism, those
who received ondansetron had a significant increase in the proportion of days
abstinent and decrease in the intensity of alcohol intake compared with those
who received placebo, but the drinking behavior response among patients with
late-onset alcoholism was similar in the ondansetron and placebo groups. In
an editorial, KranzlerArticle discusses pharmacological treatment of alcoholism based
on clinical subtypes.