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Medication For Alcohol Addiction: MAT For Alcoholism

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In the United States, roughly 29.5 million people struggle with alcoholism. There are numerous options for treatment available, though, and many people find rehab and therapy to be effective. However, medication can bolster the effectiveness of other forms of treatment.

At Luxe Recovery Studio City, we have numerous levels of care available for people who struggle with substance use disorder, process addictions, and mental health concerns.

What Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) are Available?

There are numerous medications available that can help a person who is struggling with alcoholism. Some of these medications include:

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is a medication primarily used to manage conditions of alcohol dependence and opioid addiction. It works by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain, reducing cravings, and preventing relapse.

Available in oral and injectable forms, Naltrexone is non-addictive and helps support recovery by diminishing the euphoric and sedative effects of substances such as alcohol.

Naltrexone is most effective when it is combined with counseling and behavioral therapies. The most common side effects include nausea, headache, and dizziness.

Naltrexone is not suitable for individuals currently using opioids, as it can precipitate withdrawal symptoms. Regular monitoring by a healthcare provider is essential during treatment.

While the most common way to take Naltrexone is through an oral tablet, several month-long Naltrexone implants are also available in Australia.

Acamprosate

Acamprosate is typically taken in tablet form three times daily and is most effective alongside counseling and support programs.

Acamprosate is typically taken in tablet form three times daily and is most effective alongside counseling and support programs.

Common side effects of the medication include diarrhoea, nausea, and headache. Acamprosate is not addictive and does not cause withdrawal symptoms. 

People with severe kidney impairment should avoid the drug and should look into alternative medication to help them stop drinking alcohol.

Disulfiram

Disulfiram is a medication that is used to treat alcohol misuse by making people acutely sensitive to alcohol. When alcohol is consumed, Disulfiram causes a person to suffer unpleasant effects such as nausea, vomiting, headache, and flushing, deterring individuals from drinking. 

It works by inhibiting the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, leading to a buildup of acetaldehyde, a toxic byproduct of alcohol metabolism.

Disulfiram is taken orally, typically once daily, and is most effective when combined with other treatment options such as counseling.

Common side effects include drowsiness, metallic taste, and skin rash. It is crucial to avoid any alcohol intake, including in foods and medications, while on Disulfiram because of the medication’s unpleasant and intended effects.

Are Medications for the Treatment of Alcoholism Viable for Long-Term Abstinence?

Medications for the treatment of alcohol misuse are viable options for supporting long-term abstinence, especially when combined with other treatment options such as behavioral therapies and support programs. 

Medications, when prescribed by a healthcare professional, can significantly enhance the chances of maintaining sobriety, especially for individuals who struggle with strong cravings or have a history of relapse.

However, the effectiveness of medication can vary among individuals, and while they can help, treatment for alcohol addiction needs to be comprehensive and multifaceted.

Medications are most effective when integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling, lifestyle changes, and social support.

Long-term use of these medications under medical supervision is generally safe, but a patient should adhere to their treatment plan, and ongoing monitoring is crucial for long-term recovery.

Medications to Manage Withdrawal Symptoms

Medications are vital to managing withdrawal symptoms. Detox is a crucial phase in the treatment of alcohol dependence, helping to ease the physical and psychological discomfort associated with cessation.

However, as crucial as it is to treat alcohol use disorder, it can often come with numerous withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam and lorazepam, are commonly used to ease anxiety, prevent seizures, and stabilize vital signs during cases of acute withdrawal.

These medications are typically administered in a controlled setting due to their high risk of dependence.

Other medications include anticonvulsants like carbamazepine and gabapentin, which can help manage seizures and reduce withdrawal severity.

Beta-blockers and alpha-2 agonists, such as clonidine, also manage autonomic symptoms like high blood pressure and rapid heart rate.

In addition to these, thiamine (vitamin B1) supplements are often necessary to prevent Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a serious condition associated with long-term alcohol misuse.

These medications are most effective when used as part of a comprehensive detoxification program under medical supervision, ensuring a safer and more comfortable withdrawal process.

Other Options for Alcohol Treatment

Medication is just one way to treat alcohol use disorder. Treatment for alcohol dependence needs to be multifaceted and address the root causes of why a person drinks so much.

Beyond taking medication, several other options for alcohol treatment are available, focusing on behavioral, psychological, and social support. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors related to alcohol use.

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) aims to increase a person’s motivation to change drinking habits by resolving ambivalence.

Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can offer peer support and a sense of community, both of which are important for achieving and maintaining sobriety.

These groups provide a sense of community and accountability.

Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs can offer structured treatment programs that provide intensive therapy and support.

Inpatient programs provide 24/7 care and supervision, while outpatient programs offer flexibility for individuals to live at home while attending treatment sessions.

Holistic approaches, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and acupuncture, can complement traditional therapies by promoting overall well-being and stress reduction.

These treatment options, when combined with medications and ongoing support, increase the likelihood of achieving long-term sobriety and improving overall quality of life.

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We Want to Help You Overcome AUD

Overcoming AUD can be hard. Alcohol is so freely available and so easy to get that satisfying a craving for alcohol is a simple matter. Sometimes, it’s such a simple matter that all you have to do is order it on your phone.

The ubiquity of alcohol can make it difficult for people who want to stop drinking. Some medications can be used to treat alcohol dependence, but people with alcohol use disorder should seek out professional treatment programs if they want to stop consuming alcohol.

At Luxe Recovery Studio City, our personalized treatment plans can help alcohol-dependent people overcome their addiction and live sober lives. Contact us now, and we can offer you comprehensive information to help you start your recovery.

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