Medications Used
For Treating Alcoholism 


Alcoholism is a disease that can be treated but no known cure is available at the present time.

There are a variety of medications however that are often prescribed as part of the treatment plan devised for alcoholic individuals.

Not all of the medications yield the same result. Some are geared at making it easier for a person to get used to being sober while others are geared towards easing the physical symptoms of stopping drinking.

The number one desired effect for all of the medications is to make it as easy as possible for an individual to abstain from consuming alcohol all together.

The most commonly prescribed drugs include Antabuse, Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Sodium Oxybate.

Antabuse (or disulfiram) is a type of medication that gets rid of acetaldehyde in the body of an alcoholic. Acetaldehyde is a chemical that the body manufactures when it goes about breaking down ethanol.

Acetaldehyde is what causes the symptoms of hangovers to rear their ugly heads. Antabuse is a drug that mimics the symptoms of a hangover only it causes severe discomfort and works very quickly to make a person feel sick.

The purpose is that a person will associate sickness and discomfort with alcohol with taking this medication and will therefore cut back on the amount they are consuming. If a person continues to drink heavily while taking Antabuse severe sickness or even death can result.

Naltrexone is a "competitive antagonist for opioid receptors" which means that it blocks a person’s ability to also take endorphins and opiates while drinking. Naltrexone is used for two different types of treatments for alcoholics.

First it is used to decrease the number of cravings a person has as well as to encourage total abstinence from alcohol.

Secondly, a treatment known as "pharmacological extinction" is sometimes undertaken which combines naltrexone with a person’s drinking habits but it does so in order to reverse the conditioning of endorphins that is believed to be at the root of alcohol addiction.

This type of medication can be prescribed either in an oral form called ReVia which is a pill that must be taken on a daily basis or as an injection to the buttocks called Vivitrol which is a time-release formulation.

ReVia is difficult to find as Vivitrol has for all intents and purposes taken over from it.

 Did You Know


The problems that come from being raised by an alcoholic are generally environmental and with a lot of hard work can be overcome. Generally, when a child is raised around alcohol and excessive drinking there is a tendency for that child to use alcohol as adults.

Many times children grow up and conduct themselves and their families in a way that is very similar to the way they were raised. It takes a conscious effort to "break the cycle" of addiction that they have witnessed and not carry on that same lifestyle to their children.

The problems that are genetic are more difficult to overcome but once the child is aware that her or she will have a tendency toward addiction they can change the way they deal with stress and other risk factors to help avoid alcoholism. 

A gene can determine whether a person will have a tendency toward an addiction toward alcohol.  In addition, there are personality and mental health examinations that can be done that can let a person know if they are at risk of being an addict.  Professional addiction counselors recommend that if a person has the gene or tests positive on the examinations they should abstain from the use of alcohol. 

The genetic push toward addiction is so strong that to tempt the body by using addictive substances is considered risky behavior and should not be attempted.  

There are many alternatives to alcohol that can actually help a person to feel more creative, less stressed, more confident and even warm. Exercise is one activity that can help relieve stress and help a person deal with his or her problems.

The medication Acamprosate which is also commonly known as Campral is believed to work by stabilizing the chemical balance of the brain that is disrupted when a person drinks too much on a regular basis.
This is a very new drug that was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004 but is showing excellent results so far.  
Interesting Facts

Don’t be ashamed, don’t place blame, don’t ignore the problem, don’t try to solve the problem alone, don’t try to reason with a drunk person, and don’t get into the car with a driver who has been drinking.


Sodium Oxybate is basically the "sodium salt of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)." This form of medication is used for alcohol withdrawal in an acute way as well as detoxification on a long-term basis.

This drug works to enhance GABA neurotransmission as well as to decrease the levels of glutamate. In Italy this drug is commonly used but in small doses and the trade name it goes under is Alcover.



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