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Medication for Alcohol Addiction Treatment

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Alcohol addiction can be managed and treated with medication, although alcohol addiction medication is usually combined with counseling or 12-step programs for better results. At present, there are three medications that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) to treat alcohol addiction. They are disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate. Disulfiram causes an unpleasant reaction when a patient who is taking it regularly ingests any alcohol, whereas the other two medications actually reduce the desire for alcohol in patients who have become accustomed to overly frequent drinking.

Call our toll-free national alcohol and drug addiction treatment hotline at to find out more about which alcohol addiction medication may help you or your loved one break the grip of alcoholism. There is never any cost or obligation for obtaining information or advice from our helpline. Medication is only one part of a full alcoholism treatment plan, and it is most effective when combined with therapy and counseling.


Disulfiram, often referred to by its trade name, Antabuse, is the oldest alcohol addiction medication presently in use. It prevents an enzyme in the body from breaking down alcohol, so a patient who drinks while using the medication will suffer nausea, vomiting and a headache. Patients take disulfiram tablets daily, and patients must be monitored for liver damage. In addition, there is a potential for more serious effects when a person who takes disulfiram relapses and drinks alcohol. According to a study summarized in the American Family Physician medical journal in 2005, 46 percent of patients who are treated with disulfiram either drop out of treatment programs or do not take their medication as directed. Therefore, disulfiram is becoming less popular while newer drugs that show more promise are replacing it as standard medical treatments for alcoholism.

Disulfiram was once used as an implant, which a surgeon inserted under the skin. Today, this form of disulfiram is available only in the developing world.

Advantages of Disulfiram:

  • Used for over 40 years
  • Not a controlled substance

Disadvantages of Disulfiram:

  • Potentially dangerous reaction
  • Low rate of compliance
  • Low rate of effectiveness

Find out more about disulfiram and other alcohol addiction medication by calling our free alcoholism and drug recovery information line at . There is never any cost or obligation, and we can help refer you to a clinic or specialist who offers disulfiram treatment in your area.


Naltrexone (ReVia) is not only an alcohol addiction medication, but it can also be used to treat addiction to opiate narcotics. This is because it acts by influencing the same receptors in the brain that respond to alcohol and opiates. It therefore reduces the cravings that alcoholics and addicts have developed as their brains became used to the presence of addictive substances in their bodies. This medicine is usually administered at a clinic, so a doctor who is licensed to treat addiction disorders can make sure their patients use it as directed. It is recommended as part of an overall recovery program for alcoholism that includes outpatient counseling and therapy as well as participation in peer support groups.

Advantages of Naltrexone:

  • Effectiveness
  • Rarity of side effects

Disadvantages of Naltrexone:

  • Controlled substance that must be monitored by physicians
  • For short-term use only
  • Can cause withdrawal symptoms when discontinued

Naltrexone may be the right alcohol addiction medication to help treat you or your loved one as part of a full program for recovery. Please call our free substance recovery and rehabilitation hotline at to find out more about how naltrexone can help in returning to a healthy, alcohol-free life.


“At present, disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate are the only types of medicine for alcohol addiction approved in the United States.”Acamprosate (Campral) is an effective alcohol addiction medication that helps the brain become accustomed to functioning properly after a patient has stopped drinking large amounts of alcohol. It is prescribed as a delayed-release tablet that is usually taken three times a day. Acamprosate does not react with alcohol, and its use does not have to be monitored for either safety or legal purposes. It has been proven effective in reducing relapses as well as in long-term maintenance of abstinence from alcohol. Therefore, it is becoming more popular among addiction specialists who recommend it as part of an overall alcohol treatment program.

Acamprosate was approved for use in the United States in 2005, but it has been used in Europe for nearly three decades.

Advantages of Acamprosate:

  • Effectiveness
  • Mild side effects
  • No withdrawal symptoms when discontinued
  • Not a controlled substance

Disadvantages of Acamprosate:

  • Does not work for alcohol and narcotics abuse
  • Patients can continue to drink while using it

Acamprosate may be the right medication for you or your loved one to take as part of an overall alcohol recovery program. Find out more about this alcohol addiction medication and find a specialist in your area who prescribes it by calling our alcoholism and drug abuse recovery helpline at .

At present, disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate are the only types of medicine for alcohol addiction approved in the United States. Research is being conducted to find new and even more effective alcohol addiction medication.

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