Medications To Help Stop Drinking: FDA Approved Medications For Alcohol Abuse

A person who is addicted to alcohol drinks compulsively knowing it causes or worsens problems in their lives. Medications used to treat alcoholism can make the journey easier, but therapy and counseling are where the real work and healing is done. If you’re looking for evidence-based alcohol treatment, contact our addiction specialists in Memphis, TN today. Benzodiazepines are used to treat psychomotor agitation (e.g., pacing, toe-tapping, rapid talking) that most people experience during withdrawal.

  • Anton RF, Kranzler H, Breder C, Marcus RN, Carson WH, Han J. A randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the efficacy and safety of aripiprazole for the treatment of alcohol dependence.
  • Because Naltrexone may interact with certain Opioids, patients should refrain from use of illegal Opioids and make sure their physician is aware of any medications they are taking.
  • Experiencing withdrawal when attempting to cut back on alcohol or get sober.
  • Alcohol ingestion stimulates endogenous opioid release and increases dopamine transmission.
  • Naltrexone, acamprosate, baclofen, topiramate, and gabapentin can all help reduce cravings for alcohol.

Most people who are alcoholics still feel a strong desire for alcohol even after they stop drinking. Older women who live alone may be particularly prone to alcohol misuse and depression due to loneliness . Depressive symptoms also occur frequently among those with alcohol dependence, especially during withdrawal when insomnia, anxiety, and dysphoric mood can complicate the course of the illness . Therefore, all practitioners, when presented with an alcohol-dependent patient, should routinely examine for depressive symptoms including suicidal ideation.


Medication is always an optional part of our alcohol treatment program. Naltrexone comes in both an oral and injectable form and has few side effects. Acamprosate was approved in 2004 to treat only alcohol problems. Two often-overlooked medications might help millions of Americans who abuse alcohol to quit drinking or cut back. Our community offers unique perspectives on lifelong recovery and substance use prevention, empowering others through stories of strength and courage.

  • This reduces some of the drawn-out physical distress and emotional upset people may experience when they stop drinking.
  • Don’t take extra pills, don’t skip pills, and don’t stop taking the pills until you talk to your doctor.
  • People who are involved with some type of regular spiritual practice may find it easier to maintain recovery from alcohol use disorder or other addictions.
  • Long-term abuse of alcohol has a sedative effect on the body.
  • For serious alcohol use disorder, you may need a stay at a residential treatment facility.
  • None of these medications can block the effects of detox completely, and none should be taken without supervision.

Decreases number of drinking days but does not increase abstinence. Directly observed therapy might be more beneficial but has not been studied in a good randomized trial. Early studies with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have been disappointing. Two fairly good studies used tricyclic antidepressants alcoholism treatment program , which showed some short-term benefit. SSRIs probably do not benefit patients who are not depressed but might benefit those who are depressed. Topiramate facilitates GABA function and antagonizes glutamate, which should decrease mesocorticolimbic dopamine after alcohol and reduce cravings.

How is alcohol use disorder treated?

For more information on naltrexone vs. antabuse , please email Monument’s support team and review our resource articles to learn more. Naltrexone is used in alcohol treatment for those looking to achieve abstinence or reduce their drinking. Naltrexone helps combat alcohol cravings while also blocking the rewarding aspects of drinking. This relationship between naltrexone and alcohol occurs because when naltrexone is present in the brain, alcohol cannot stimulate the release of dopamine.

alcoholism treatment medication

Since people in this group don’t usually respond well to behavioral therapy alone, researchers looked for medications to treat their chemical imbalance. One of the medications that regularly reduced cravings in alcoholics who are biologically inclined to alcoholism is ondansetron, an FDA-approved medication used to treat nausea in cancer patients. And even though research has shown that ondansetron is effective for treating early-onset alcoholics, it still is not FDA-approved for this use. Treatment may begin with a program of detoxification — withdrawal that’s medically managed.

Online Therapy

Buprenorphine is a medication that attaches to the same receptors that heroin attaches to, preventing withdrawal. Marta Nelson of Advanced Recovery Systems explains how benzodiazepines such as Librium and Ativan can be used to relieve some withdrawal symptoms caused by alcohol cessation. Based on the founders of AA’s 12 Steps, this is a support group for people in recovery from alcoholism. It involves surrendering to a higher power and working with a sponsor . View the full list of criteria for an AUD, along with other signs of symptoms of alcohol abuse. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

What is the final common pathway in addiction?

The mesolimbic dopamine system: the final common pathway for the reinforcing effect of drugs of abuse?

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