Drugs for Alcoholism

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  FEBRUARY  18 ,
2021 | 3 Sources

While there have been advances in the field of drugs for alcoholism, there is still no all-out cure for the disease. Though there is no cure for this disease, there are some regimes of drug treatment for alcoholism that can

be helpful. Generally speaking, these regimes are useful in helping to control cravings for alcohol, which can be beneficial in assisting the person to avoid further consumption.

It should be noted that not all heavy drinkers require the use of medications to break the habit. Many addicts are able to recover without the use of any type of medication. The effectiveness of drugs for alcoholism will vary from person to person, but in all cases, the continued use of alcohol will hinder any progress that may take place.

Drugs Used to Treat Alcoholism

The three main drug treatment for alcoholism regimes available in the US are listed below. Each of these has been approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Campral (acamprosate calcium): This medication was approved by the FDA for use in the United States in 2004. While it is relatively new to the US, it has been used for many years in Europe.

Naltrexone: Naltrexone is considered an opioid receptor antagonist. It is used primarily for the treatment of alcohol dependence and opioid addiction. Naltrexone hydrochloride is also known as and sold under the brand names of Depade and Revia. In some countries an extended-release form of Naltrexone is marketed using the trade name Vivitrol. It is used in the sinclair method of alcoholism treatment.

Antabuse: Antabuse, also known as disulfiram, was the first medication officially approved for the treatment of alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. This particular medication has a long history of research.

For example, a study of chronic alcoholics that took place in Europe over a 9-year period showed that the psychological effects of long-term treatment can produce abstinence rates better than 50 percent in those taking this particular medication.

All of the above drugs for alcoholism are prescribed by medical professionals and must be taken under professional medical supervision. The side effects of each medication will vary, and only a trained medical professional can determine which drug treatment for alcoholism is best for you.

Only One Part of the Process

Using drugs for alcoholism recovery can be useful but they cannot take the place of other important factors that will be needed to make a full recovery. At the top of this list is personal dedication to stop drinking. These medications can help control cravings but the individual must make the decision to avoid drinking.

In addition, any drug treatment for alcoholism will be enhanced if the person takes part in a group support system. There are many programs available from the well-known 12 Step Program to more formal settings with professional counselors.

There are both in-house and outpatient programs available, both of which can be vital to making a full recovery from this addiction. The determination as to which type of program will be best for the individual can be complicated and is best arrived at by seeking the advice of a trained professional.

Lastly, the overall effectiveness for all types of drugs for alcoholism will be increased when family and friends of the addict take part in the recovery process. While outside group support is important, those who are close to the individual will also have an impact on his or her recovery.

Being supportive and encouraging to the individual can go a long way in helping him or her reach a successful result. This is true whether the individual is on a drug treatment for alcoholism program or doing it without medications.

You can learn more about the various programs and medications available by visiting your local substance abuse center or by reviewing the other sections of this website.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

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