Your Guide to Medications Used to Treat Alcoholism

Part of recovering from alcohol use disorder is changing old behaviors and routines. Some people may not provide the support you need to reach your goals. Tapering off alcohol can have dangerous side effects, and your doctor may prescribe some medications to help. Researchers haven’t compared medication alone to psychotherapy alone, and results are mixed as to whether combining the two provides greater benefits than either one alone.

Because AUD can be a chronic relapsing disease, persistence is key. It is rare that someone would go to treatment once and then never drink again. More often, people must repeatedly try to quit or cut back, experience recurrences, learn from them, and then keep trying. For many, continued follow up with a treatment provider is critical to overcoming problem drinking.

Risk factors

Others may want one-on-one therapy for a longer time to deal with issues like anxiety or depression. Alcohol use can have a big effect on the people close to you, so couples or family therapy can help, too. In addition to choosing the type of treatment that’s best for you, you’ll also have to decide if that treatment is inpatient (you would stay at a facility) or outpatient (you stay in your home during treatment). Your healthcare provider can help you evaluate the pros and cons of each. It is important to remember that not all people will respond to medications, but for a subset of individuals, they can be an important tool in overcoming alcohol dependence.

alcoholism medication

I felt both less anxiety and less pain because I knew relief was available if needed. I took six opioid pills during the course of two separate surgeries. I had one moment where I felt as though my body was in perfect ease, and a vague memory of having loved this experience earlier. However, it wasn’t overwhelming or seductive — let alone worth risking the life I have now. A life worth living — where you feel deeply connected to others, have the tools you need to manage distress and have a strong sense of purpose — is the best defense against addiction. Rezai is trying the same therapy on 45 more addiction patients and is already thinking about expanding the use of ultrasound to help people with other brain disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder and even obesity.

What are possible side effects of medicines to treat alcohol use disorder?

“Just felt better, you know, just felt like I did prior to ever using drugs, but a little bit better,” Buckhalter said. “And it was at that point that I knew that I was going to have a legitimate shot at doing well.” Once 30 Powerful Womens Recovery Memoirs to Inspire Your Own Journey in place, the wire was connected to a device placed below the collarbone. The electrical pulses it sends to the brain are intended to suppress cravings. The system is adjusted remotely with a tablet computer as needed.

  • It involves heavy or frequent alcohol drinking even when it causes problems, emotional distress or physical harm.
  • They are most effective in people who participate in a treatment plan that combines medication and behavioral therapy.
  • Acamprosate reduces alcohol withdrawal symptoms by normalizing the brain’s alcohol-related changes, which also reduces the potential for relapse to occur.
  • Medicines are usually used with talk therapy and support groups to treat alcohol use disorder.
  • This drug may be a good choice when someone has gotten an ultimatum from their family, an employer, or the legal system about their alcohol misuse.

Simply understanding the different options can be an important first step. This summary was prepared by the John M. Eisenberg Center for Clinical Decisions and Communications Science at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX. It was written by Amelia Williamson Smith, M.S., Thomas Kosten, M.D., and Michael Fordis, M.D. People with alcohol use disorder reviewed this summary.

Who is at risk for alcohol use disorder?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) helpline provides free, confidential, 24/7 support for people in distress. Counselors can provide information about treatment options and local support groups. People who are experiencing difficulties with alcohol use should seek professional help. If someone cannot control their drinking habits or experiences negative consequences as a result of drinking, they may have AUD. Although overcoming AUD is a challenging process, medications can help people stay in recovery and prevent them from returning to drinking. Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

alcoholism medication

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