Author: James Anderson

Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder

alcohol addiction medication

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. This can help improve your changes of a lasting recovery. Acamprosate (Campral) eases withdrawal symptoms — such as insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and feeling blue — that can last for months after you stop drinking. When you drink alcohol while taking naltrexone, you can feel drunk, but you won’t feel the pleasure that usually comes with it. “You’re trying to make that relationship with alcohol have no rewards,” Holt says.

  1. 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.
  2. How you achieve that behavior change can vary from one person to another.
  3. Two other drugs, gabapentin and topiramate, also interact with GABA and glutamate systems.
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Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with alcohol-related deaths increasing during the pandemic. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends that physicians offer pharmacotherapy with behavioral interventions for patients diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. Disulfiram has been commonly prescribed, but little evidence supports its effectiveness outside of supervised settings. Other medications, including varenicline and baclofen, may be beneficial in reducing heavy alcohol use.

Yet medications for alcohol use disorder can work well for people who want to stop drinking or drink a lot less. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Your doctor can talk about a medication’s pros and cons, availability, and more with you.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances. The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition. A support group or care program may be helpful for you and your loved ones.

Topics under 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. “You can commit to taking Antabuse every day while the other person watches,” he says. Treating any and all alcohol-related problems can improve your quality of life and your chances of staying sober.

alcohol addiction medication

Seek out friends, family members, and healthcare professionals who help you stay on your new path. 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. Some studies suggest that simply getting help — whether through medication, counseling, or both — is what matters for successful management of this addiction. Three drugs have FDA approval for alcohol use disorder, and each works differently.

More on Substance Abuse and Addiction

This is a good option for anyone who has difficulty regularly taking the pill. The balance of these systems in the brain of a person who has been drinking heavily for a long time gets thrown off, Holt says. “Acamprosate is designed to level out those abnormalities and provide some stability.” When you have alcohol use disorder, just thinking about alcohol triggers a pleasurable response in the brain.

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. Like naltrexone, acamprosate seems to work best for people who are able to stop drinking before starting treatment. “It can be 30- to 60-day abstinence rates, fewer heavy-drinking days, cutting back on total number of drinks, or even fewer [alcohol-related] ER visits.” provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products.

alcohol addiction medication

An illness marked by consumption of alcoholic beverages at a level that interferes with physical or mental health, and social, family, or occupational responsibilities. They also spend a great deal of time drinking alcohol, and obtaining it. Alcohol abusers are “problem drinkers”, that is, they may have legal problems, such as drinking and driving, or binge drinking (drinking six or more drinks on one occasion). Your health care provider or mental health provider will ask additional questions based on your responses, symptoms and needs. Preparing and anticipating questions will help you make the most of your appointment time.

If you have alcohol use disorder, medication may help you stop drinking while you take it. Keep in mind medication can’t help change your mindset or lifestyle, though, which are just as important during recovery as stopping drinking. What works for one person may not work for another, but a professional can offer guidance.

Coping and support

“My hope,” Schmidt says, “is that after a while the behavioral changes are such that the medication isn’t going to be necessary.” A local hospital or your doctor can also connect you with a support group.

What to expect from your doctor

The easiest way to lookup drug information, identify pills, check interactions and set up your own personal medication records. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests. 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.