Alcohol Addiction maintenance medication options: Fighting against relapse
Alcohol addiction relapse is the most frustrating part of the addiction process for many people. If you decide you want to get sober, it is important to incorporate a comprehensive plan in order to fight against the potential to relapse. While medications typically will not be enough on their own to treat an addiction, they can greatly help. The following medications are used as part of my comprehensive approach to alcohol addiction treatment:
1. Naltrexone-This medication acts on our brain’s own opioid receptors and can help target cravings in some people I have personally found a large variation in efficacy of Naltrexone when using it at the traditional dose of 50mg daily. I have seen success and also have seen it not helpful. It has the risk of reducing the desirable pleasure and happiness of life but this varies depending on the person. It is often worth a trial period to see if cravings are reduced in a helpful way and if not, it can be easily discontinued.
2.Antabuse-This is one of the oldest alcohol addiction medications. It has a relatively limited scope of use but can sometimes be very successful. It blocks enzymes in the liver that are necessary to metabolize alcohol and thus makes one very nauseated when they drink while taking this medication.
3.Acamprosate-This medicine modulates two neurotransmitters called Glutamate and GABA, although its mechanism of action is poorly understood in exactly how it helps with cravings. In essence it helps to lower cravings in some people. Again, I have seen both great success and limited utility in using this medication with patients. It is most often helpful as part of a more comprehensive treatment plan but nonetheless can be a very helpful component.
In addition to these medications, I often target other symptoms that usually accompany alcohol addiction such as depression, anxiety and insomnia. I utilize an array of psychotropic medications as well as psychotherapy to address these symptoms. Combining one of the above 3 medications with the other treatment modalities is the best approach to successfully recovery from my experience as a psychiatrist.