medication for alcoholism

Your Ultimate Guide to Using Medication for Alcoholism

When you’re suffering from an alcohol use disorder, you may feel as though all is lost and there is nothing left for you to fight for. But do you know that millions of people, just like you, each year seek treatment to overcome their alcohol use disorder (AUD)?

Sobriety is a journey that takes time, patience, and determination. According to research, alcohol, and drug dependence is at an all-time high. There is a variety of medication for alcoholism that helps people overcome alcoholism. These treatments include:

Medication for Alcoholism

Medication for alcoholism is also a method that can be used to overcome drug and alcohol dependence, but research shows it is currently underused. The FDA has approved disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone (both oral and the injectable medication) for the treatment of alcohol dependence or the prevention of relapse to alcohol use.

Are you interested in using medication to treat addiction? Here is your guide to the different types of medication for alcoholism.

Disulfiram/ Antabuse Medication to Deter Drinking

The FDA approved Disulfiram/ Antabuse as an alcohol abuse deterrent in 1951. This medication is used to assist you to stop drinking alcohol. The prescription comes in a tablet form, and you should take it daily.

Physicians prescribe Antabuse after getting rid of all the alcohol from the body because prescribing it otherwise would make the symptoms of withdrawal worse.
When you consume Antabuse and then drink alcohol, it results in a severe reaction which causes discomfort such as vomiting.

The idea is that the reaction creates a negative stimulus, and, in turn, will make you turn away from drinking after associating Antabuse and alcohol. This, therefore, creates a deterrent to drinking. The side effects associated with this medication include:

  • Mild drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Impotence
  • Headache
  • Acne
  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Metallic or garlic-like aftertaste

It is important to remember that Disulfiram reacts to anything that contains alcohol. The smell of household products such as perfumes or mouthwash, for example, can be a trigger to it. Therefore, when using this as a medication for alcoholism, you should consider this.

Who uses Antabuse? You may wonder. People who are determined to stop drinking alcohol but have attempted and failed at various occasions may use this drug. People who have withdrawal symptoms and are at risk of drinking again may also be prescribed Antabuse by a physician.

Antabuse doesn’t address withdrawal symptoms and requires significant compliance on your part to be effective. So for this drug to work, you must be motivated to stop drinking and continue to take Antabuse.

Naltrexone/ Revia to Curb Alcohol Cravings

Naltrexone is sold under the brand names Revia and Depade. This drug was originally used to reduce cravings for people with opiate use disorders. Research indicates that the drug can also reduce the longing for an alcohol fix.

Some studies also suggest that Naltrexone works better at relieving cravings from alcohol than from opioids.

How does it work? You may ask. Well, it blocks the “high” that you experience in the brain whenever you drink alcohol or take opioids like heroin and Vicodin. In addition to blocking this high caused by alcohol, Naltrexone can curb cravings for the substance.

You should take the Naltrexone pill daily to relieve cravings, the extended-release injectable, on the other hand, monthly. Research shows that Naltrexone is most effective in patients who have been able to quit and stay away from alcohol before taking the medication.

Like any other drug, Naltrexone has its side effects. These may include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Nausea or vomiting

Naltrexone reduces alcohol cravings and decreases relapse rates in alcoholics. The drug does not address withdrawal symptoms in individuals who are in recovery from drug and alcohol dependency.

Acamprosate is a Medication for Alcoholism

Acamprosate / Campral is the most recent medication approved for the treatment of alcoholism in the U.S. It works by reducing the physical and emotional distress people generally experience when they quit drinking.

Drug and alcohol dependence disrupts brain chemistry. Campral comes in to help normalize brain chemistry, which aids in reducing cravings. Physicians prescribe Acamprosate once the withdrawal symptoms dissipate.

The drug may not be effective if you take it while drinking alcohol.
For over 20 years, most parts in Europe used Campral as a medication for alcoholism. It was not approved for use in the USA by the FDA until July 2004. The drug became readily available in the US in 2005.

The most common side effects of Campral may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia

Although severe side effects are less common, they can include:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vision problems
  • Changes in hearing
  • Fainting

The medication comes in the form of a tablet and is sold under the brand name Campral. You should take Campral a day thrice. As with other medications used during the alcohol recovery process, Campral administration happens once a person completes the drug and alcohol detox.

Furthermore, its use intends to help prevent future drinking temptations, rather than getting rid of withdrawal symptoms.

Turn Your Life Around with Sana Lake Recovery Center

Recovery plans that involve using medication for alcoholism have proven to be effective for many people. Although your recovery is unique, it’s important to seek the guidance of a treatment specialist to determine the best program for you.

At Sana Lake Recovery Center, we understand that alcohol addiction affects a family, Therefore, we focus on restoring your family. If you or your loved one is suffering from alcoholism, it’s time to start on the path to a healthier and alcohol-free lifestyle.

Stop making excuses as to why you can’t get sober and start finding solutions for how you can overcome alcoholism. By committing to getting help today, you are investing in a better tomorrow.

Contact a treatment expert now to learn more about addiction treatment and find out more about our family support program.

References:

 

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>