Medication Options for Stuttering

The use of medication that affects brain functions has also had limited success in increasing fluency, although it is usually used in conjunction with behavioral and cognitive therapy and may have side effects that limit its long-term usefulness. To date only two medications, haloperidol and risperidone, have been shown to be effective in a rigorous double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Unfortunately, both drugs have side effects that limit their usefulness, with haloperidol having more severe side effects than risperidone. The largest study of risperidone for stuttering was completed by the University of California Stuttering Research Group. In the study, rispiradone improved fluency and was well tolerated by the participants. However, side effects associated with changes in levels of the hormone prolactin developed and the medication was discontinued. Another drug, olanzapine, is similar to risperidone and haloperidol, but has a different side effect profile and has not yet been tested under a comparable double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. While the medicinal treatments for stuttering have vastly improved over recent years, there is still no medication that can "cure" stuttering. Like traditional speech therapy, medications can only decrease the frequency and severity of a stutter.