Josh Chandler | April 13, 2021

What Medications Can Be Used to Treat Alcoholism

Medications That Help Treat Alcohol Use Disorder

There are medications to treat alcoholism while in rehab treatment. These drugs can be quite helpful in achieving long-lasting sobriety, yet not many people are aware of them. Medications to treat alcoholism work quite well in helping people remain sober or limiting their drinking severely.

Professional addiction counselors like the team at Muse Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles are experienced and knowledgeable about the many medicinal options available to treat alcohol use disorders in conjunction with counseling and therapy. Medications to treat alcoholism can be very helpful in physiological and psychological ways.

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Disulfiram

The first of the FDA-approved medications to treat alcoholism, disulfiram, alters how your system reacts to and metabolizes alcohol. Also known by its brand name, Antabuse, this medicine makes you feel very sick if you drink liquor while taking it. It works as a negative reinforcement tool to curb drinking. The physical reactions to disulfiram prevent you from drinking as much as you used to, or it may even stop you from drinking at all.

Although disulfiram effectively limits someone’s drinking habits, it can be difficult to continue its use over the long term if you’re not highly motivated to achieve sobriety. The side effects you’ll encounter if you’re taking disulfiram and then have a drink may include bouts of nausea or vomiting, headaches, palpitation, choking, and excessive sweating. It can feel similar to experiencing a terrible hangover. Because many people dislike the effects that disulfiram causes, they quickly associate its use with distastefulness.

Disulfiram does work well for those in recovery who know when they’ll feel triggered to drink or will have cravings for alcohol, such as when they’re at a party, over the holidays, or when they’re under the kind of stress that used to lead them to drink.

Naltrexone

This medication blocks the pleasurable effects of alcohol and also reduces cravings and future desires to drink. Naltrexone works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. That severely limits a user’s “high” or feelings of intoxication. It also suppresses cravings for liquor that will help lessen or eliminate alcohol intake.

If you take Naltrexone and then start drinking, you may feel as though you’re drunk, but you won’t experience the pleasurable effects you’ve come to expect when drinking alcohol. You’ll begin to disassociate drinking alcohol with causing you pleasure.

It’s important to undergo alcohol detox before starting Naltrexone medications to treat alcoholism. The drug works best for people who have stopped their alcohol intake for at least four days before beginning the medication. Naltrexone helps sustain sobriety by reducing your alcohol intake and lessening the urge to drink.

Naltrexone is one of the safest medications to treat alcoholism, with mild side effects reported, such as some feelings of nausea or diarrhea that can often be eliminated by changing the dosage.

Acamprosate

The medication, Acamprosate, helps in the prevention of relapse by curbing the impulse to drink again. It also assists in alleviating withdrawal symptoms after you stop drinking. Some of the symptoms it relieves include sleeplessness, anxiety, restlessness, and some feelings of depression.

This medication to treat alcoholism targets the GABA and glutamate chemical messenger systems in the brain to tamp down the fearful and anxious feelings associated with alcohol withdrawal.

Acamprosate is more effective for preventing relapse and a return to drinking than it is for simply reducing your intake of alcohol. Its use is most successful when used following alcohol detox to help in maintaining abstinence.

Other Aspects of Treating Alcoholism

Medications to treat alcoholism are effective in helping you achieve long-lasting sobriety. But medication, alone, is just a part of the puzzle that leads to recovery.

Simply relying on medications to treat alcoholism isn’t enough to help you achieve sobriety that will be long-lasting. When used together as part of a comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment plan, these types of medications do their part to keep you from drinking again.

You’ll need the kinds of therapies we offer in our Los Angeles alcohol and drug rehab, including cognitive behavioral therapy, individual counseling, group sessions, and participation in 12-step programs to enjoy a healthy, successful recovery.

To learn more about our residential and outpatient treatment options in Los Angeles, call Muse Treatment at 800-426-1818 today. All calls are completely confidential.

Alcohol Addiction,Alcohol Rehab,Treatment,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.


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