Atenolol is the generic name for a beta-blocker commonly used to treat high blood pressure and to reduce chest pain during an angina attack. Beta-blockers relax the blood vessels to increase blood flow but, at the same time, reduce blood pressure. A common brand name for atenolol is Tenormin. In addition, atenolol has been found effective in migraine prevention and reducing the symptoms of anxiety, due to its regulation of the circulatory system
Addiction professionals are very interested in the ability of the drug to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms. When a patient is being weaned off of alcohol he may experience agitation, tremors, sleep disturbances and, in severe cases, seizures or hallucinations. Delirium tremens (DTs), which typically begin within two or three days after a patient stops drinking, is one of the most serious withdrawal symptoms and manifests as severe confusion, hallucinations and autonomic nervous system hyperactivity.
In the late 1980s, researchers at Yale University studied the effects of using atenolol to manage alcohol withdrawal. In this randomized, double-blind trial two hundred patients received either atenolol or a placebo during withdrawal. Over the course of two weeks researchers evaluated each patient’s experience on the alcohol withdrawal severity index and their level of cravings. At the conclusion of the study, one-third of those receiving atenolol had treatment failure versus one-half of those patients who received the placebo. In addition, those that received atenolol had fewer cravings than those who did not.