What Medications are used in Alcoholism Treatment and Alcohol Detox?
More than 100 million Americans struggle with alcohol abuse and only a small portion will seek treatment. One of the reasons many don’t get the help they need is because they don’t know what medications are used in alcohol treatment and alcohol detox.
Why Medications are used in Alcohol Detox Treatment
The purpose of alcohol detox is to remove the toxic chemicals from the body. Depending on the severity of alcohol use, when most people quit drinking they will being to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The intensity of the symptoms will depend on the severity of use. If left untreated, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be fatal which is why most doctors do not recommend trying to quit chronic alcoholism suddenly and without medical assistance. Another problem with alcohol withdrawal is that it can be so painful and uncomfortable that many people return to drinking in order to relieve their symptoms. Medications will work to control the withdrawal symptoms, decrease the amount of stress and anxiety throughout the process and help the patient successfully complete alcohol detox treatment.
What Medications are used in Alcoholism Treatment?
Although there is no magic pill that will cure alcoholism or stop the desire to drink alcohol, there are a number of medications available that are FDA approved for use in alcoholism treatment including Antabuse, Campral and Naltrexone.
Antabuse has been around for more than 50 years. Antabuse is effective by blocking the body’s ability to absorb alcohol and preventing the body to produce the enzyme responsible for alcohol absorption. Instead there is a build-up of acetaldehyde which results in nausea, flushing and palpitations. Unfortunately, Antabuse does not reduce alcohol cravings and should be used in a controlled setting.
Campral is an oral medication, taken three times per day and is effective at reducing withdrawal symptoms as a result of abstaining from alcohol. In some people Campral is able to block alcohol withdrawal symptoms from reoccurring after detoxification, but it does not work for everyone.
Naltrexone works to reduce alcohol cravings as well as the euphoric feelings individuals get from drinking. Naltrexone is effective by blocking the receptors in the brain. Naltrexone is available in a once-daily pill and a monthly injectible. Other than convenience, the biggest difference is the cost. Naltrexone pill is about $11 per month and the injectible (Vivitrol) is about $1000 per month. After medical detox treatment it is not unusual for the doctor to send patients home with certain medications such as Neurontin, a low dose anti-depressant and/or Vistaril, a non-habit forming anti-anxiety medication to help with post-acute withdrawal.
Alcoholism Treatment: Medication and Counseling
It is important to understand that medication by itself is not enough for successful alcoholism treatment, but should be combined with some type of psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy or a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous. If you have questions about what medications are used in alcohol treatment and alcohol detox, Gallus Detox Center can help. Call us today for a confidential consultation at 855-338-6929.