Author: John Carter

Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions

alcohol addiction medication

Yet medications for alcohol use disorder can work well for people who want to stop drinking or drink a lot less. Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most common drugs used to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD). They do not provide a cure for the disorder but are most effective in people who participate in a MAUD program. Many people don’t know it, but there are medications that treat alcohol use disorder,  the term for the condition that you may know of as alcoholism and alcohol abuse.

  1. Your health care provider or counselor can suggest a support group.
  2. These relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body.
  3. Learn more about these treatments for substance use disorders.
  4. If your provider suspects that you have a problem with alcohol, you may be referred to a mental health provider.

Long-term alcohol misuse damages the brain’s ability to function properly. The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition. Researchers haven’t compared medication alone to psychotherapy alone, and results are mixed as to whether combining the two provides greater benefits than either one alone.

These relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. Medications used for treatment are evidence-based treatment options. If you have alcohol use disorder, medication may help you stop drinking while you take it. Keep in mind medication can’t help change your mindset or lifestyle, though, which are just as important during recovery as stopping drinking. provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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People who have alcohol use disorder drink regularly and in large amounts. When their bodies don’t have alcohol, they experience withdrawal symptoms. Other people might only need to take the medication at times when they know they’ll feel triggered to drink. For example, if someone usually relapses at the holidays or the anniversary of the death of a loved one, they might decide with their doctor to take it just around that time, Schmidt says.

The coexistence of both a substance use disorder and a mental illness, known as co-occurring disorders, is common among people with Substance Use Disorders. In addition, individuals may have other health related conditions such a hepatitis, HIV and AIDS. Treating any and all alcohol-related problems can improve your quality of life and your chances of staying sober. Seek out friends, family members, and healthcare professionals who help you stay on your new path.

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For serious alcohol use disorder, you may need a stay at a residential treatment facility. Most residential treatment programs include individual and group therapy, support groups, educational lectures, family involvement, and activity therapy. An illness marked by consumption of alcoholic beverages at a level that interferes with physical or mental health, and social, family, or occupational responsibilities. They also spend a great deal of time drinking alcohol, and obtaining it. Alcohol abusers are “problem drinkers”, that is, they may have legal problems, such as drinking and driving, or binge drinking (drinking six or more drinks on one occasion).

alcohol addiction medication

“It can be 30- to 60-day abstinence rates, fewer heavy-drinking days, cutting back on total number of drinks, or even fewer [alcohol-related] ER visits.” Three drugs have FDA approval for alcohol use disorder, and each works differently. A support group or care program may be helpful for you and your loved ones.

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These medications are safe to use for months, years, or even a lifetime. As with any medication, consult your doctor before discontinuing use. Some of the medications used as part of a treatment protocol are controlled substances due to their potential for misuse. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several different medications to treat Alcohol and Opioid Use Disorders.

Some studies suggest that simply getting help — whether through medication, counseling, or both — is what matters for successful management of this addiction. The balance of these systems in the brain of a person who has been drinking heavily for a long time gets thrown off, Holt says. “Acamprosate is designed to level out those abnormalities and provide some stability.” Acamprosate (Campral) eases withdrawal symptoms — such as insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and feeling blue — that can last for months after you stop drinking.

The medication can help you have fewer days when you drink heavily as well as drink less overall. This medication blocks the “feel-good” response alcohol causes. Naltrexone may help reduce the urge to drink and prevent excessive alcohol consumption. Without the satisfying feeling, people with alcohol use disorder may be less likely to drink alcohol. Two other drugs, gabapentin and topiramate, also interact with GABA and glutamate systems. The FDA approved them to treat seizures, but health care professionals sometimes prescribe them “off-label” for alcohol use disorder.

Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with alcohol-related deaths increasing during the pandemic. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends that physicians offer pharmacotherapy with behavioral interventions for patients diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. Disulfiram has been commonly prescribed, but little evidence supports its effectiveness outside of supervised settings.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Your doctor can talk about a medication’s pros and cons, availability, and more with you. What works for one person may not work for another, but a professional can offer guidance. Many treatment options are available, including medication. These drugs work by changing how the body reacts to alcohol or by managing its long-term effects.

These programs are designed to encourage you, teach you about coping with life in recovery, and help you manage cravings and relapses. If you use this form of naltrexone, a healthcare professional will inject the medication once a month. This is a good option for anyone who has difficulty regularly taking the pill. Be prepared to discuss any problems that alcohol may be causing.

Residential treatment programs typically include licensed alcohol and drug counselors, social workers, nurses, doctors, and others with expertise and experience in treating alcohol use disorder. Research shows that naltrexone works best for people who have already stopped drinking for at least 4 days when they begin treatment. You take it daily as a pill or get a monthly injection at your health care professional’s office.