Medication for Alcoholism

Medication For Alcohol Abuse



Medication for Alcoholism
There is medication that assists those battling alcoholism resist the intense cravings associated with early recovery





medication for alcoholism

When talking about medication for alcoholism, we need to first make a very important distinction and that is...

  • ....there are drugs for alcoholism that are licensed and used to help alcoholics detox from alcohol and then stay away for alcohol.
  • ....there are also drugs that some alcoholics say have cured them of their need to drink alcoholically.
On this page we will briefly talk about both types of drugs. You should not use any of these medications unless they are prescribed for you by a physician with expertise in treating alcoholism.


Medication For Assisting Alcoholics In Their Recovery


NALTREXONE is a prescription alcoholic medication that has to be prescribed by a physician/doctor.

Naltrexone is in a class of drugs that are commonly referred to as opiate antagonists; they work by causing a decrease in the intensity of the craving a recovering alcoholic feels in the first few months of life without drink.

Naltrexone is also effective for blocking the effects that individuals receive from opioid street drugs and medications.

There is also an injectable form of naltrexone, marketed under the brand name, Vivitrol. This only needs to be administered once a month thus making it easier to manage your cravings.



ACAMPROSATE is a medication for alcohol abuse that also requires a doctor's prescription and is used in combination with support groups and alcohol counseling programs.

Actions of the human brain can change after a person has consumed alcohol for a long period of time. It is thought this drug helps by promoting the natural actions of the brain to begin working efficiently.

Researchers are not exactly sure how it works, but studies show that recovering alcoholics taking Acamprosate (marketed under the brand name, Campral) are less likely to relapse.



DISULFIRAM is a medication for alcohol abuse that a physician will often prescribe to a patient for the treatment of chronic alcoholism. The purpose of the drug is to discourage you from drinking, so must be given when you have already stopped drinking.

When taken as prescribed, this drug works by causing a variety of uncomfortable effects that occur a very short time after the patient decides to drink alcohol.

These effects include:

  • blurred vision
  • vomiting
  • headache
  • choking
  • sweating
  • flushing
  • chest pain
  • nausea
  • mental confusion
  • anxiety
  • problems with breathing
Once taken, Disulfiram will stay in your system for up to 24 hours, so it is advised not to drink within this time period.

Drinking alcohol while taking this drug can, in rare cases, actually kill you. So be warned.

Disulfiram is also known as Antabuse (literally anti-abuse).

Although this medication for alcoholism is in no way used to cure alcoholism, it can help a great deal in discouraging a person from taking a drink.


Medication Claimed To Cure Alcoholism

There are two types of medication for alcoholism that are said by some to cure alcoholism, they are naltrexone (see above) and baclofen. Both drugs are NOT licensed for this use.

Many working in the alcoholism treatment industry scoff at the idea of an alcoholism cure, and reject both these drugs as possible cures for alcoholism. However, there are a minority of people who claim they have rid themselves of their alcohol dependence by utilizing one of these two medications for alcoholism.



NALTREXONE as mentioned above, is used to control the cravings for drink recovering alcoholics experience. The drug is taken AFTER the alcoholic has already quit drinking.

However, there are those who say that if you always take naltrexone (50mg) one hour BEFORE drinking, then you will, over time, reduce your alcohol consumption to normal levels and may even stop drinking altogether.

Naltrexone will in effect kill your urge to drink. For more on this use of naltrexone, read the Sinclair Method.



BACLOFEN has been around a long time, but not as a medication for alcoholism, rather it has been used in those with neurological disorders.

Research in the past ten or so years has shown that baclofen also seems to reduce cravings associated with addiction. When those taking this drug drink, they don't feel the need to drink as much as before in fact they seem to gain control over their drinking.

This use of baclofen has been popularized by a French cardiologist, Dr. Oliver Ameisen, who wrote a book chronicling how he cured his alcoholism by using this drug in much the same way naltrexone is used in the Sinclair Method.

For more on this use of baclofen and more details on dosages etc., read Baclofen, New Alcoholism Treatment.


Unapproved And Unlicensed

It is important to emphasize that both naltrexone and baclofen are not approved to be used in the ways they are described above (i.e. as alcoholism cures). Why this is so is open to debate.

If you do plan to use them in the ways above, then please take consult a physician first.




This page is purely for informational purposes and does not replace the advice of a trained and qualified physician in any way.



If you found this page helpful, then the following may be of interest to you:



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Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)






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