Treatment for Alcoholism

Please see your doctor for any medical treatment, this page is simply for your information.

First off, click here if you are wondering if your alcohol use is a problem.

If you do, see below…

The medical treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder is as follows.

Keep in mind, these medications are about 10% of your addiction recovery, they help the physiological addiction for example the cravings or withdrawals. The psychological addiction requires much more work. See 5 Steps to Beat Your Addiction

Furthermore, the peer reviewed research studies are conflicting regarding the effectiveness of these medications although in my clinical experience they seem to help my patients.

Medications

Studies on the effectiveness of medications look at “time until first drink.” So in order of most effective to least effective here they are.

  1. Naltrexone (FDA Approved)
    • Actually an opioid receptor blocker
    • Thought to reduce the euphoria associated with drinking
    • Reported to decrease cravings for alcohol
    • Dose is 50mg tablets orally once a day
    • Long acting form is Vivitrol which is a monthly injection offered by Addiction Doctors and some Psychiatrists
    • Most common adverse effects: Nausea in 33% of people and headache in 25% of people (although clinically my experience is much less)
      • Your doctor can reduce the dose to 25mg if these effects persist more than a few days
  2. Acamprosate (FDA Approved)
    • Works by acting on the Gaba and Glutamate system
    • Helps to decrease craving as well as tremors associated with alcohol detox
    • Dose is x2 333mg tablets orally three times a day
    • Most common adverse effect is diarrhea in 16% of people (again, clinically I find less people complain of this)
  3. Disulfiram (FDA Approved)
    • FDA approved for alcohol use disorder
    • Works by blocking the liver enzyme Acetaldehyde Dehydrogenase therefore leading to hangover like symptoms
    • Doesn’t have good evidence for helping because no one wants to get sick if they relapse. May work well if your family or someone else observes you taking this medication daily

Alcoholics Anonymous has historically helped many many people get sober and remain sober. One of the most common reasons people return to rehab is because they stopped working the program. This means that they went to their AA meetings less and less. There is some kind of power in AA you can read about my opinion here.

Published by Dr Z

I'm a Doctor and trying to help others heal from the disease that I too struggle with, Addiction.

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