Alcoholism is a term used to describe the frequent consumption of alcohol, which results in alcohol addiction. Accepting that you have an alcohol problem instead of denying you do is the first step in treating alcoholism. The next step is to seek ways that can help you control the problem.
You may consider counseling, outpatient/inpatient treatment, or detoxification in a medical set up. Choose the best treatment option that works better for you, or you can also seek professional help. In this article, we will evaluate the medications that are approved to support alcoholism recovery programs, how you can get them, advise you on the right ones to use, and tell you about their effectiveness.
Which medications are approved?
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medications for alcoholism. They comprise of Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram. These drugs do not treat behavioral problems caused by alcoholism, but they are known to help in stopping the drinking problem. There are also drugs like Topiramate and Benzodiazepines that help with delirium tremens, cravings, and seizures. When these medications are used along with other support services and behavioral therapy, they greatly help to treat alcohol use disorder.
This drug belongs to the opiate antagonists’ class. It inhibits the desire to consume opiates and the effects it causes. Opiate effects include pain relief, or happiness. In alcoholism treatment, it helps alcoholics to quit drinking or reduce the amount of alcohol they consume. It does so by decreasing the cravings of alcohol and blocking the pleasures it brings about.
Dosage and Use
Naltrexone drug can either be injected or taken orally. Both forms give the same results, which is blocking the happy feeling in the body brought by alcohol. If you are using the injection form, a professional doctor should inject the drug once per month. This option works better if you have trouble taking pills repeatedly.
The drug, when taken orally, can be consumed with or without food. Take 50 milligrams per day or the dosage prescribed by the doctor. Taking Naltrexone with antacids or with food is recommended if the drug causes a stomach upset. The dosage is prescribed based on your response to the treatment and your medical condition. After monitoring withdrawal symptoms or the side effects of the procedure, the doctor may decide to increase your dosage. To benefit from the drug, take it frequently as directed by the doctor.
Disulfiram was approved as the first medication to treat alcohol use disorders. For many years now, it has been used to retain sobriety by physicians and treatment providers. Disulfiram is not a stand-alone treatment. It has to be used together with other comprehensive recovery plans which include:
- Addiction-specific therapies
- Alcoholics Anonymous Support groups
- Inpatient and outpatient rehabs
Dosage and Use
This treatment mode has proved to be very useful while treating alcohol use disorders. The doctor can prescribe this treatment as soon as alcohol is wholly removed from your body. Taking alcohol and using this medication simultaneously can result in some uncomfortable physical experiences such as:
- Chest pains
- Difficulty in breathing
- Vomiting or nausea
- Blurred Vision
Prescription is usually in a tablet form and is typically taken every single morning. To control your alcohol cravings, your doctor may prescribe a strong dosage of this medication. This prescription aids in your recovery. As time passes, the doctor may adjust the dosage built on your recovery progress.
It is advisable to schedule check-up appointments now and then with your doctor after you completing rehab. During the check-ups, discuss your recovery progress with your doctor. From that, the doctor will be able to determine when you can stop using medication for alcoholism. You should not stop using it without consulting your doctor or taking more than the prescribed dosage due to Disulfiram’s possible severe effects.
Side Effects of Disulfiram
Apart from helping to retain sobriety, this medication may cause severe side effects to some patients. Be as truthful as possible when giving your medical history and the medications you are currently using. Over-the-counter drugs and prescriptions can react when used with Disulfiram. These side effects can be categorized into two, minor (end with time and do not pose medical threats) and significant effects.
The minor side effects are:
- Skin rash
Major (serious medical assistance needed) include:
- Dark urine
- Yellowing of the eyes or skin
- Loss of appetite
Will medications make me sober? Yes, the above medications will help you retain sobriety only if you are ready to call a quit to alcohol. The journey to sobriety can be hard and long, but you can make it easier by first finding the treatment and recovery program that perfectly fits your AUD. Then let devotion and patience guide you through the rest of the journey. Lastly, surround yourself with friends and family members who distract you from the thought of sipping alcohol.