The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Certain medications can help alleviate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and help prevent relapse. Your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce cravings for alcohol. Medications used to treat alcoholism will vary on a case-to-case basis.
Naltrexone is used to help you to stay away from alcohol, but it is not a cure for addiction. It may work by blocking the high that makes you crave alcohol. It will not, however, prevent you from experiencing the effects of alcohol. Naltrexone is available as a pill (ReVia) and an injection in the muscle (Vivitrol).
Disulfiram (Antabuse) helps you overcome your drinking problem by making you very sick if you drink alcohol. However, it does not "cure" alcoholism. While you take this medicine, and for 14 days before you begin taking it, you should not drink even the smallest amount of alcohol. You should not use any foods, products, or medicines that contain alcohol, nor should you come into contact with any chemicals that contain alcohol while using this medicine.
If you use alcohol while taking this medicine, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
Nausea and vomiting
Dizziness or fainting
Sweating and flushing
Rapid heart beat
Symptoms will last from 30 minutes to several hours.
Acamprosate (Campral) reduces your craving for alcohol by inhibiting a chemical in your brain called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). Several studies have indicated that it may help you remain abstinent.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) affect the concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a role in
. SSRIs may be used to reduce cravings for alcohol. They are also helpful if you have a coexisting psychiatric problem, such as an anxiety disorder or depression. Improvement is usually seen in 4-6 weeks after beginning treatment.
This anti-anxiety drug may be used in the treatment of alcoholism and withdrawal symptoms, as well as a coexisting anxiety disorder. It takes from 2-4 weeks for improvement to be evident. For this reason, this drug is not useful for treating acute anxiety and insomnia. The primary advantages of buspirone are that it is less sedating than benzodiazepines, and it does not result in physical dependence or tolerance.
Buspirone should be taken with food to increase absorption. Do not take with MAO inhibitors. Avoid alcohol in excessive amounts when taking this medication due to possible adverse reactions.
Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety drugs that may be used to relieve withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism and reduce the risk of
. These drugs produce a sedative effect and are fast-acting. Benzodiazepines are usually not used for long periods of time because they can lead to dependence and may cause withdrawal symptoms when discontinued.
10/29/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Johnson BA, Rosenthal N, Capece JA, et al. Topiramate for treating alcohol dependence: a randomized controlled trial.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a