Alcoholism can have detrimental effects on the body. When consumed regularly alcohol abuse can cause a physical and mental dependence. Alcohol increases the body’s feel good chemical dopamine which then creates a need for more alcohol to feel the same. Consuming alcohol can lead to liver damage, heart disease, and pancreatitis. There are medication and therapy options available to treat alcohol use disorder. Medications often require administration by a loved one at least during the initial time frame, to ensure the medication is taken as prescribed. Alcohol treatment counseling requires consistency and dedication to improve your thought process and behaviors over time. In this blog post, we will go over some of the most common modalities below such as naltrexone for alcohol cravings among others.
Naltrexone for Alcohol Cravings
Naltrexone is a medication that has been used to treat alcohol abuse and alcohol use disorder for many years. It is a part of the opioid receptor antagonist family, and it helps to block the effects of opioids in the brain. This can be helpful for people who are struggling with alcohol addiction, as it can help to reduce cravings for alcohol. Naltrexone is also used to treat other addictions, such as opioid addiction. If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, naltrexone may be a good option for you.
Naltrexone can reduce cravings up to 80% and can be an effective treatment for alcohol abuse when used in combination with other therapies. It is important to note that naltrexone should not be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as it can cause serious side effects in newborns. If you are interested in learning more about naltrexone and how it can help with alcohol abuse, speak to your doctor or therapist. They will be able to advise you on whether naltrexone is the right option for you.
Antabuse: Immediate Physical Adversion
Another medication which is not as widely used due to side effects when consumed with alcohol is called antabuse. It is a pill taken once daily like naltrexone and it creates an aversion to alcohol so that when people have even the slightest sip they will have intense GI symptoms (leave to the imagination), increased heart rate, palpitations, sweating, and will experience feelings of malaise. Antabuse has been used as a treatment for alcoholism for 50 years, but its use is declining because of naltrexones better side effect profile.
Topamax Proven to Curve the Edge
Topamax is another option for alcohol treatment. It is an anti-seizure medication that has been shown to be effective in treating alcohol use disorder, although not FDA approved and not fully understood. Topiramate is thought to have its effect on alcohol cravings and alcohol use by interacting with GABA and potentially decreasing the release of dopamine, which is involved in the pleasure caused by alcohol consumption.
Side effects of topamax include drowsiness, fatigue, and dizziness. When starting a new medication your doctor will often start with the lowest dose and titrate according to tolerability and medication effectiveness.
Campral and the Multi-dose Detriment
Campral is also an option for alcohol abuse however it requires a multi-dose daily administration to be effective which can be difficult for compliance. Common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, gas, stomach pain, loss of appetite, headache, drowsiness, dizziness, constipation, fatigue, weight gain/loss, muscle/joint pain, change in sexual desire or decreased sexual ability may occur. Acamprosate is the active ingredient in campral and it helps to restore the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain that were disrupted by alcohol use disorder.
Side effects of medications listed above should dissipate once your body adjusts to the medication. If any side effects are long-lasting or impairing then you must speak to your doctor to change treatment modalities.
Abstinence vs Harm Reduction
Alcoholics Anonymous is a popular modality which includes groups many find helpful in conjunction with medication or therapy. AA meetings take place all over the world and are free to attend. The 12 step program followed by AA is based on abstinence from alcohol, and members support each other through their recovery journey. If you would like to find an AA group near you, please visit this link.
If AA or an abstinence program is not for you there are other options available to reduce harmful drinking. Hazardous drinking reduction has experienced its share of controversy, especially from leaders in the abstinence community who believe that true alcoholics must abstain from alcohol completely. Harmful drinking reduction program ideologies require accountability and deep reflection to truly identify how drinking impacts your life and how reduced drinking can improve areas such as relationships, legal problems, motivation, physical health, your career, and others. Including medication to decrease cravings, having a support network, and working with a counselor or coach can be beneficial in your recovery process if you are not ready to fully quit.
Alcohol Abuse As a Symptom
Lastly alcohol use disorder may also be a symptom of an underlying anxiety, depression, or even a reaction to trauma. In these cases dual diagnosis treatment may be necessary to help address both the alcohol abuse as well as the anxiety, depression, ptsd, or another condition. Untreated or poorly managed ADHD can also commonly lead to alcohol abuse due to poor impulse control and dysregulation of certain neurotransmitters.
Two common therapies which can be used to treat alcoholism are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and exposure therapy. CBT is a type of therapy that helps people to learn how to change their thoughts and behaviors. Exposure therapy is a type of therapy that helps people to face their fears in order to overcome them for example if you are struggling with unresolved trauma.
Alcoholism is a complex disease that manifests itself in different ways for different people. There are many treatment options available, and the best option for you will depend on your individual circumstances. If you are struggling with alcohol use disorder or alcoholism, please seek professional help. New Age Psychiatry can provide you with the resources you need to get started on the road to recovery. Naltrexone, topamax, campral, and antabuse are all common medications that can be used to help with alcohol addiction. Hazard reduction programs or abstinence programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12 step program that can be helpful for people in recovery. If you would like to learn more about any of these options, please speak to your doctor or therapist. They will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for your individual needs.
Want to learn more? Read on here to learn why alcohol causes cravings and the effect on the brain.
New Age Psychiatry Difference
New Age Psychiatry offers licensed and certified psychiatric services through virtual telehealth appointments within the state of Florida. We understand the fears and consequences that often come with alcoholism and alcohol use disorder, and we will work hard to help you manage your condition.
New Age Psychiatry is a modern mental health service in Florida that approaches addiction and other mental health issues with compassion and forward-thinking techniques. New Age Psychiatry offers certified psychiatric services through telehealth appointments in Florida. Some of the highlights of the New Age Psychiatry approach include:
- Online Screening – We will begin with certified online screening to provide an overview of psychiatric care. We also offer a personalized, specific diagnosis through our psychiatric Telehealth services.
- Diagnosis, Recovery, & Treatment – Our full range of comprehensive psychiatric telehealth services can aid in treating a multitude of psychiatric illnesses and assist in the recovery process in alcoholism.
- Telehealth Services – Our psychiatric telehealth services are available throughout the state of Florida and can assist you in psychiatric care through counseling and medication management