Which Medications Treat Alcoholism?

Medications are often proscribed to help lessen the withdrawal symptoms when trying to abstain from drinking. There are currently only three medications that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat alcoholism.


"Disulfiram is a medication that helps to deter alcohol use."Disulfiram is a medication that helps to deter alcohol use. The medication blocks the metabolism of alcohol, which basically cancels the general high feeling that we get when we drink alcohol. The result is intense feelings of nausea, sweating, vomiting and cramps. The negative effects of drinking while taking the drug are usually enough to cause someone to refrain from drinking. It is often not used in an inpatient treatment facility but it is given to individuals after they have abstained from drinking for at least 24 hours. The only issue with the medication is that it must be taken every day in order for it to be effective. An individual that is going through treatment could stop taking the medication in order to drink.


Naltrexone is used in combination with therapy to help decrease the craving for alcohol. It is not recommended for heavy drinkers or those who are also addicted to street drugs, such as meth. This medication does not control withdrawal symptoms that are associated with detox or recovery and can often make them worse. It is also ineffective if it is not used in conjunction with another treatment method. All therapy appointments and group meetings must be kept in order for the medication to work. Naltrexone should always be taken as recommended even if you begin to feel you are OK and can fight the addiction without the medication.


Alcohol Abuse

Medications that are used to treat alcoholism, acamprosate should be used in conjunction with therapy.

When we drink alcohol it changes the way our brains work. Acamprosate works to reverse the negative effects and restore the way the brain is supposed to function. It does not control withdrawal symptoms but it can reduce the desire to drink as long as the medication is taken as it has been proscribed. Like other medications that are used to treat alcoholism, acamprosate should be used in conjunction with therapy. Because the medication changes the way your brain functions one may experience strange thoughts or an inability to make decisions. Driving a vehicle or operating heavy machinery should be avoided until you know how your body will react while on the medication.

Other Medications Used to Fight Alcoholism

There are often other drugs that are prescribed to help a person deal with the effects of addiction. These medications often help treat the symptoms of depression or another addiction in conjunction with the alcohol treatment.


Fluoxetine is used to treat depression in those that are fighting alcohol addiction. Quite often alcoholism is the result of coping with intense sadness or depression. This medication is prescribed to deal with the underlying issue so the individual can overcome their feelings of depression without turning to alcohol. It can also help rid the addict of constant thoughts of alcohol. The medication works to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which causes feelings of happiness.


"Vivitrol is used in inpatient treatment centers. Vivitrol is used in inpatient treatment centers." The medication is given by an injection and is a derivative of the drug natrexone. The one benefit of having the medication injected is that it can be given once a month instead of taking pills everyday. It is best used on individuals that used to drink in large quantities but it should only be given to those that no longer drink. Injecting the drug is one method of ensuring that an addict is using the drug consistently and it is less expensive to administer.

No two people are alike in the fight against alcoholism. Your physician will help decide which medications are right for you. It is extremely important to let your doctor know any other medications you take on a regular basis before you begin a treatment regimen. Medications often help prevent a relapse and those who take medications often have a higher success rate at overcoming their addiction.

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