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Medical Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

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Every single day individuals struggle to fight alcohol addiction. Often times it is not enough to try to fight the addiction on your own. Professional treatment is usually tailored to a specific individual. Medication is usually the primary method of treatment. This is combined in part with self-help groups and the need for family support. Individuals that have a strong support base generally have a higher success rate at overcoming addiction. The following is a brief overview of the medications and their role in treatment.

Three Medications to Fight Alcohol Addiction

There are currently three medications that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to fight alcohol abuse. Each medication has its own advantages and purpose. These medications include naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram.

group-therapyAcamprosate is used in the initial stages, or detoxification, of alcohol treatment. This medication is given to individuals who have recently stopped drinking and are used to consuming large quantities of alcohol. Over time, alcoholism changes the way our brains work. Acamprosate works to make the brain function normally again. It does not control the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting but it can reduce the cravings for alcohol. Individuals that have taken the drug have shown greater numbers of days of total abstinence from drinking than those who were not under treatment. One advantage is the drug can be taken with medications for depression without an interaction. Acamprosate will not work on individuals that have not stopped drinking alcohol.

Naltrexone is used when a person has gone through detox and is now in the recovery stage. It is most often used in combination with counseling and group therapy. The medication works to prevent relapse by blocking certain receptors in the brain that control cravings. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, naltrexone prevents one relapse for every five patients undergoing alcohol treatment. The medication must be taken continuously for it to be effective and like acamprosate it will not control withdrawal symptoms. It will control cravings and make alcohol less appealing to the addict. Combined with group treatment and counseling, naltrexone has been proven to be very effective at controlling relapses.

Disulfram discourages drinking by causing unpleasant side effects when taken with alcohol consumption. This drug is often used on individuals that have tried the other treatment drugs and cannot control cravings. When taken with alcohol, disulfram causes vomiting, nausea, sweating, anxiety, difficulty breathing and blurred vision. These effects can last over an hour after alcohol use. The effects are generally bad enough to deter alcohol use.  The medication must be taken regularly in order for it to be an effective treatment option.

What You Need To Know About Medical Treatment

While the medications can be very effective at treating alcohol abuse, the individual must be serious about the need for treatment. The person must attend all group meetings and doctors appointments to help evaluate the situation. This also helps hold one accountable for their actions during the treatment stage and give them the needed support to overcome the addiction.