Medications For Treating Alcohol Dependence
Severe acute withdrawal symptoms such as delirium tremens and seizures rarely occur after 1-week post cessation of alcohol. The acute withdrawal phase can be defined as lasting between one and three weeks. In the period of 3–6 weeks following cessation, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbance are common.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. There’s some evidence that acupuncture, mindfulness, and meditation help during AUD treatment. Some herbal remedies, including kudzu, ashwagandha, and milk thistle, could support your recovery, too. It’s important to seek AUD treatment only from a qualified healthcare professional or facility.
The idea of hitting rock bottom refers to an experience of stress that is attributed to alcohol misuse. There is no single definition for this idea, and people may identify their own lowest points in terms of lost jobs, lost relationships, health problems, legal problems, or other consequences of alcohol misuse. The concept is promoted by 12-step recovery groups and researchers using the transtheoretical model of motivation for behavior change. Naltrexone is a competitive antagonist for opioid receptors, effectively blocking the effects of endorphins and opioids. Naltrexone is used to decrease cravings for alcohol and encourage abstinence.
Dual Addictions And Dependences
“My hope,” Schmidt says, “is that after a while the behavioral changes are such that the medication isn’t going to be necessary.” One drawback is that you must take two pills three times every day. “If you don’t like taking pills, you already take too many pills, or you aren’t good at remembering to take pills, then this would be a tricky one,” he says.
Kudzu extract has shown some promise in helping people avoid binge drinking. Binge drinking is when someone has more than four or five drinks in two hours. Mindfulness therapies have been used to keep people from relapsing. Relapse is when someone resumes drinking in unhealthy ways after a period of recovery. A 2017 research review found that acupuncture helped with alcohol cravings and withdrawal. People with this type have a combination of both impulsive and compulsive features.
Relapse Is Part Of The Process
Despite the imprecision inherent in the term, there have been attempts to define how the word alcoholism should be interpreted when encountered. Alcohol abuse and addiction doesn’t just affect the person drinking—it affects their families and loved ones, too. Watching a family member struggle with a drinking problem can be as heartbreakingly painful as it is frustrating. But while you can’t do the hard work of overcoming addiction for your loved one, your love and support can play a crucial part in their long-term recovery. When you’re craving alcohol, there’s a tendency to remember the positive effects of drinking and forget the negatives.
For more information on relapse, seeRelapse Is Part of the Process. Individuals are advised to talk to their doctors about the best form of primary treatment. A local hospital or your doctor can also connect you with a support group. Treating any and all alcohol-related problems can improve your quality of life and your chances of staying sober. A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
- Your doctor or mental health professional will ask additional questions based on your responses, symptoms and needs.
- Partial hospitalization programs , the most intensive form of outpatient care, is a level of care that entails patients living at home while attending treatment for up to 10 hours every day, most days of the week.
- After three months, I will cut back my weekend drinking even more to a maximum of two drinks per day and three drinks per weekend.
- “And primary care doctors tend to shy away from these meds because they weren’t trained to use them in med school.”
Over the long- or medium-term, excessive drinking can significantly alter the levels of these brain chemicals. This causes the body to crave alcohol in order to feel good and avoid feeling bad. Some people experience some of these signs and symptoms but are not dependent on alcohol. In the past, a person with this condition was referred to as an “alcoholic.” However, this is increasingly seen as an unhelpful and negative label. Health professionals now say that a person has an alcohol use disorder .
Types Of Treatment
Rather, it is a detailed combination of genetic markers and environmental precursors all mixed together. There is a hereditary role in the development of alcohol dependence, but no alcohol addiction gene has ever been isolated. Having a parent who is an alcoholic makes you four times more likely to be one yourself, per the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. We surveyed 2,136 American adults who either wanted to stop drinking alcohol or had already tried to . We asked them about their alcohol use, reasons for drinking, alcohol-related outcomes, health and more. A subset of the study’s respondents (47.1%) qualified as heavy alcohol users.
Here are the options to talk about with your doctor for withdrawal and long-term sobriety. Going cold turkey without the right medication can lead to life-threatening withdrawal reactions. Here’s what you need to know for safe and successful alcohol addiction treatment. Gabapentin – This drug is primarily used to treat epilepsy and nerve pain, so it can prevent seizures, and other nervous-system related consequences of alcohol withdrawal. Like baclofen, it can help some people avoid relapse over the long term. American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of alcohol rehab programs across the nation.
What works for one person with a behavioral addiction may not work for another—or could even make your symptoms worse! Only about 1 in 5 people who have a substance use disorder receive the treatment they need, and of those who do seek help, an estimated 40-60% relapse. Optimizing your brain health based on your type can help you stay on track with a recovery program and reduce the risk of relapse. Brain health is the primary factor that determines your vulnerability to addiction. (See “Addicted Brains Work Differently” below for more on how the brain is involved in substance abuse.) Genetics and environmental factors also play a role in susceptibility to substance abuse. For example, if your parents or other family members abused drugs or alcohol, you are more likely to pick up those same behaviors.
After withdrawal symptoms subside, doses are typically tapered back until a patient’s treatment professional determines it is no longer needed. Benzodiazepines, also commonly referred to as “benzos,” are used to treat alcoholism and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These prescriptions come in a tablet form that can be swallowed or dissolved under the tongue, as well as a liquid form that is injected. The Recovery Village is here for you and would welcome the chance to help you start your path to a full recovery. Reach out to our team today to learn more about comprehensive treatment for alcohol abuse and how you or your loved one can become free from an addiction to alcohol. Ongoing addiction treatment can help to minimize relapses and establish longer periods of recovery.
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. Because it is metabolized by the liver, hepatotoxicity is possible, although uncommon. Patients with AUD may have liver dysfunction; therefore, caution is warranted. Two other drugs, gabapentin and topiramate, also interact with GABA and glutamate systems.
A trial randomized 170 patients with alcohol dependence and depression to 14 weeks of cognitive behavior therapy plus sertraline (Zoloft; 200 mg per day), naltrexone , both medications, or double placebo. Those taking a combination of sertraline and naltrexone had higher abstinence rates and a longer delay before relapse to heavy drinking compared with those taking placebo or either agent alone. Alcoholics may also require treatment for other psychotropic drug addictions and drug dependences. Benzodiazepines may be used legally, if they are prescribed by doctors for anxiety problems or other mood disorders, or they may be purchased as illegal drugs. Benzodiazepine use increases cravings for alcohol and the volume of alcohol consumed by problem drinkers.
If you’re a long-term, heavy drinker, you may need medically supervised detoxification. Detox can be done on an outpatient basis or in a hospital or alcohol treatment facility, where you may be prescribed medication to prevent medical complications and relieve withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor or an addiction specialist to learn more. Overcoming an addiction to alcohol can be a long and bumpy road. If you’re ready to stop drinking and willing to get the support you need, you can recover from alcoholism and alcohol abuse—no matter how heavy your drinking or how powerless you feel. And you don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom; you can make a change at any time. Whether you want to quit drinking altogether or cut down to healthier levels, these guidelines can help you get started on the road to recovery today.
For many, continued follow up with a treatment provider is critical to overcoming problem drinking. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved three medications for treating alcohol dependence, and others are being tested to determine whether they are effective. Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs provide peer support for people quitting or cutting back on their drinking. Combined with treatment led by health professionals, mutual-support groups can offer a valuable added layer of support. In 1982, the French company Laboratoires Meram developed acamprosate for the treatment of alcohol dependence. It was tested for safety and efficacy from 1982 until 1988 when it was authorized for use by the French government to treat alcoholism.
Unlike most medications for alcoholism, baclofen is processed by the kidneys, not the liver. Anticonvulsants like carbamazepine, gabapentin, or topiramate. These medications help reduce drinking behavior and treat mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms. Topiramate has not yet received FDA approval but has shown promise in treating alcohol addiction. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an AUD, you will likely benefit from some form of treatment.
Cost may be a factor when selecting a treatment approach.Evaluate the coverage in your health insurance plan to determine how much of the costs your insurance will cover and how much you will have to pay. Ask different programs if they offer sliding scale fees—some programs may offer lower prices or payment plans for individuals without health insurance.
Marital and Family Counselingincorporates spouses and other family members in the treatment process and can play an important role in repairing and improving family relationships. Studies show that strong family support through family therapy increases the chances of maintaining abstinence , compared with patients undergoing individual counseling. When asked how alcohol problems are treated, people commonly think of 12-step programs or 28-day inpatient rehab but may have difficulty naming other options.