These medicines are designed to help manage a chronic disease, just as someone might take drugs to keep their asthma or diabetes in check. Not all primary care doctors are familiar with medications to treat alcohol addiction. Here are the options to talk about with your doctor for withdrawal and long-term sobriety. Topiramate is generally prescribed to treat seizures and migraines, but also seems to help with alcohol use disorder. They also report less pleasure from alcohol, and have fewer anxiety-related drinking urges.
If you want to stop drinking, Nancy Beste, an addiction therapist in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, recommends talking to your doctor about the best way to do so. It may turn out that you’re a good candidate for one of three federally approved medications on the market. Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take any opioid-containing medicines for pain, cough or colds, or diarrhea.
ONCE-MONTHLY VIVITROL ALONG WITH COUNSELING MAY GIVE YOU A PATH FORWARD IN YOUR alcohol dependence RECOVERY JOURNEY1
In order for anyone to benefit from the advances in medication development reviewed herein, the treatment gap must be closed. This will require engagement at multiple levels, from prevention to public education about AUD and the available treatments. 5 Tips to Consider When Choosing a Sober Living House Researchers and clinicians can help in these efforts by reducing stigma surrounding AUD and other substance use disorders by choosing appropriate language to describe these disorders and the people who are affected by them .
- These medications are safe to use for months, years, or even a lifetime.
- Naltrexone, an antagonist of opioid receptors in the brain, is a prescription medication that is available in oral (Revia) and long-acting injectable (Vivitrol) formulations.
- Disulfiram causes nausea, vomiting, and dysphoria with coincident alcohol use.
Because there is a risk of liver damage with naltrexone, it is contraindicated for individuals with severe liver disease. The prescribing healthcare professional can answer questions and provide information about the use of naltrexone for alcohol use disorder. Most studies are of short duration, and more long-term trials are needed. In short-term studies when naltrexone was stopped, patients relapsed. Naltrexone has a greater effect on reducing relapse to heavy drinking than it does on maintaining abstinence. Extended-release intramuscular naltrexone resulted in reduced relapse to heavy drinking in a large, randomized trial.
Starting With a Primary Care Doctor
In early abstinence, individuals with AUD experience more emotional dysregulation, stress, and alcohol cravings, all of which can increase the risk of relapse. Thus, alpha-1 blockers like prazosin and doxazosin may help to normalize these stress system changes seen in AUD . Currently, the specific mechanisms of action of topiramate remain under investigation. However, the drug is thought to inhibit glutamate α-amino 3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazoleproprionic acid (AMPA) and kainate receptors [108,109,110] and L-type calcium channels , as well as enhance the inhibitory activity of GABA . These effects, taken together, work to attenuate dopaminergic activity mesolimbic reward circuits, thereby reducing both alcohol craving and withdrawal symptoms .
People who have alcohol use disorder drink regularly and in large amounts. When their bodies don’t have alcohol, they experience withdrawal symptoms. This is not an uncommon concern, but the short answer is “no.” All medications approved for treating alcohol dependence are non-addictive.
Learn more about Alcohol Use Disorder
Medication can therefore solve much of the biological aspect of addiction. Up to half of people with AUD will experience some withdrawal symptoms when easing off alcohol, experts say. These can include irritability, agitation, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, insomnia, increased anxiety, sweating, nausea and vomiting. Heavy drinkers may need hands-on medical care and monitoring, or a proper “detox” in a health care facility, to manage their symptoms. N-[(4-Trifluoromethyl) benzyl] 4-methoxybutyramide (GET73) is a GHB analogue that has shown promising in vitro and in vivo preclinical results as a potential agent for the treatment of AUD.
Sometimes researchers find new uses for existing medications, which is helpful since they start from the point of already knowing potential side effects. A study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates the heart medication spironolactone may be effective for patients with alcohol use disorder. For instance, some people may experience minor withdrawal symptoms that subside within a few days. Others, however, may face serious symptoms that can last a lifetime.
This is because patients with alcohol or drugs in their system will experience strong side effects of the medication, such as nausea and vomiting when combined with other substances. To avoid any uncomfortable symptoms, medical providers typically wait until after the detox process is complete before administering this medication. Naltrexone blocks the brain areas where narcotics and alcohol work. So, you should be careful not to take any narcotics while you are taking naltrexone. Do not take any cough medicine with codeine in it while you are taking naltrexone.
How does naltrexone make you feel?
This medicine may cause some people to become dizzy, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. If any of these side effects occur, do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert while you are taking naltrexone.
Most people benefit from regular checkups with a treatment provider. Medications also can deter drinking during times when individuals may be at greater risk of relapse (e.g., divorce, death of a family member). A newer anti-seizure medication being investigated for alcohol treatment is ezogabine. Testing in animals suggests that it may reduce alcohol abuse by opening up channels in the brain that reduce the pleasurable effects of drinking alcohol. But you can suffer from a medically serious withdrawal syndrome if you stop abruptly after drinking four or more drinks a day.