Alcoholism – Conventional Medicine

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Alcoholism - Conventional Medicine

Traditional drugs can help treat alcohol abuse and dependence both by mitigating the withdrawal symptoms during early abstinence and by helping you to stay sober throughout the recovery period.

The medicines most often used to treat early withdrawal symptoms include:

Anti-anxiety medications such as diazepam and benzodiazepines, which help with some symptoms including trembling or the DTs (delirium tremens).

Seizure medications if these are needed to tackle severe withdrawal symptoms during early detoxification.

Some of the most common drugs use to help continued recovery are:

Disulfiram: This can be administered as tablets or through sub dermal implants. The drug works by making the patient experience a range of unpleasant reactions if they drink alcohol, such as headaches, palpitations and vomiting. However, the drug can also have other significant side effects and must always be carefully monitored.

Naltrexone (ReVia, Vivitrol, Depade): This drug lessens the pleasure you get from alcohol, it can be administered as monthly injections or a 50mg tablet daily. Naltrexone reduces relapse rates. Usually it should be begun 7 to 10 days after abstinence has started to avoid the most serious withdrawal period, however, it has also been shown to be effective at reducing heavy drinking in alcohol dependents who are not abstaining. Side effects include diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Liver function should be checked before starting a course of Naltrexone.


Acamprosate (Campral): This can help reduce the craving for alcohol, but is only effective in combination with support groups and other methods of continuing abstinence. Taken as a tablet, Acamprosate may induce side effects of diarrhoea, allergic reactions, high or low blood pressure, headaches or impotence.

Topiramate (Topamax): This drug is usually used to combat seizures or migraines, but it has also been found to be effective in treating alcohol problems, although use with alcohol may result in increased drowsiness. It appears to alter a chemical imbalance in the brain and stop drinking from being a “rewarding” experience. Memory and thinking problems, plus feelings of sedation are possible side effects of this drug.


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