Medication for Alcoholism
Alcohol abuse and misuse are growing problems in the UK, especially during this sustained period of economic difficulty. You should know there is help available if you are suffering from any sort of troublesome drinking habit. Whether you are a problem drinker, an alcohol abuser, or full-blown alcoholic, you can overcome your problems with the right help.
Alcoholics usually need to undergo detox and behavioural rehab in order to conquer their drinking problems. Nevertheless, problem drinkers and alcohol abusers may be successful with a combination of rehab treatment and certain medications prescribed to help them stop drinking.
In the UK, doctors can prescribe four drugs to problem drinkers and alcohol abusers:
- Disulfiram – This drug, first discovered in the 1920s, prevents the body from processing alcohol properly. The result is an acute sensitivity to alcohol that manifests itself almost immediately after drinking. Within minutes of consuming alcohol, this drug will cause a very intense hangover designed to discourage further drinking.
- Acamprosate – Acamprosate is used to reduce the cravings for alcohol by balancing chemicals in the brain that are being thrown off by alcohol consumption. In order for this drug to work, patients must refrain from further drinking and seek help through a support group or counselling.
- Naltrexone – This drug, used to discourage both alcohol and opiate use, works by blocking certain receptors in the brain, thereby cancelling out any pleasurable reaction to substances ingested. Like acamprosate, successful use of naltrexone requires the drinker to refrain from further alcohol consumption.
- Baclofen – Among all of the drugs used for alcohol treatment, baclofen is the newest and most controversial. This drug is a receptor antagonist similar to naltrexone that can, in some people, reduce cravings while at the same time also minimising withdrawal symptoms. Studies on the effectiveness of baclofen are not yet conclusive, so not every doctor is willing to prescribe it.
In addition to these four medications, vitamin therapy is often prescribed for severe alcohol abusers or alcoholics. Heavy drinking tends to interfere with healthy eating habits, so doctors use vitamin therapy to restore the physiological balance that helps the body to better handle withdrawal from alcohol.
When Medications Are Used
We hope you understand that none of these medications is a ’magic pill’ that will cause you to stop drinking immediately. No such magic pill exists. The only purpose of these medications is to assist you in following through on your wilful decision to stop drinking. If you do not truly want to stop, the drugs will not do you any good.
Medications may be prescribed under the following conditions:
- Detox – During the detox process, an alcoholic will likely be prescribed a very specific vitamin regimen. Doctors who believe baclofen might help will prescribe it as well. The combination of both prescriptions should alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms while also reducing cravings.
- Post Detox – In the weeks following detox, a recovering alcoholic in a residential rehab programme will likely be given one of the other two medications to help reduce cravings. When combined with effective rehab therapies, the medications can be quite successful.
- Outpatient Detox – An alcohol abuser or addict who is best served by outpatient detox will be prescribed one of the medications listed above. The choice for each individual patient is up to the GP or nurse who treats him.
We would like to remind you that if you are taking any of these medications then you cannot continue to drink. If you do, two problems are likely to arise. The first problem is that the medication will no longer be effective in your current attempt to stop drinking. The second problem is that none of the medications will work for you in the future either. Once you cross the line, there is no going back.
It is the goal of GPs and other practitioners to prescribe medications for alcohol treatment on a temporary basis. In other words, they do not want you taking these drugs for the rest of your life. The best-case scenario is one in which you use the medication while undergoing treatment for alcoholism or alcohol abuse, only to stop using it once your treatment is complete. However, this requires an uncompromising commitment on your part.
Medication a Supplement, Not a Cure
We have already stated that the medications used for alcohol treatment are only a supplement designed to make recovery easier. They are not cure. However, here’s the question: does a cure for drinking problems exist? Yes it does. The cure is total abstinence on your part.
Treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction is a combination of detox, medication, and rehab therapies. However, you need to understand that rehab therapies are rooted in the need for the patient to change his or her behaviour. That is one of the reasons cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one of the most used rehab therapies for alcohol. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a goal-oriented therapy aimed at helping the recovering drinker take ownership of his or her past, present and future.
Another popular behavioural therapy is the 12-step programme originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. The programme lays out 12 steps that, when followed, cause the individual to take full responsibility for him or herself and their life, in order to cease from drinking. It is a very successful programme that has been used by a large number of addiction related organisations for decades.
Your Journey Start Now
If you would like more information about the various medications used to treat alcohol problems, please do not hesitate to contact us here at UK-Rehab. One of our trained counsellors would be more than happy to discuss your current circumstances with you. We will also help you locate the best treatment for your situation, should you desire it. Our number one goal is to make sure you get whatever help you need.
Your journey to a life free of alcohol starts right now. All you need do is contact us via the telephone or our website. So, are you ready for a better life?
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