What Are Some Of The Medications Used To Treat Alcoholism?

What Are Some Of The Medications Used To Treat Alcoholism

One method for treating alcohol addiction is the administering of specific substances which are designed to neutralize cravings. When such medications are combined with counseling and other forms of rehabilitation the success rate for recovering alcoholics is much higher. Below is a list of the top medications which are used in the treatment of alcohol addiction.

Medications which are used to combat alcohol addiction can be broken down into two broad categories. The first of these are medications that when consumed create an aversion to alcohol. Those who take these substances will lose their desire for it, which will help them gradually overcome their addiction. The other type medications are those which lower cravings for alcohol. These medications make it much easier for long term, heavy drinkers to deal with the extreme withdrawal symptoms that will result when attempting to quit.


Disulfiram, also known as Antabuse, is a medication that is designed to create aversion towards alcoholic beverages. When this drug is taken the user will have unpleasant side effects after consuming alcohol. The side effects are not harmful to the body but are designed to condition patients to develop distaste for alcoholic drinks. Typical side effects which are experienced include headaches, vomiting, nausea and hot sweats. Another advantage of using Disulfiram is that it only requires a single dosage to be taken every week or two, rather than once a day.


Naltrexone, which also goes by names such as Vivitrol or ReVia, is designed to lower cravings for alcohol. It is designed for recovering alcoholics, and it can either be injected monthly or it can be taken as a pill once a day. Naltrexone has a number of side effects associated with it such as fatigue, stomach discomfort and headaches. If the drug is taken in higher dosages than recommended it can also damage the liver. Under no circumstances should naltrexone be used by any patient that has recently consumed narcotics.


Also known as Campral, Acamprosate has anti-craving properties which influence the brain to block a specific neurotransmitter named GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid. Once this occurs the brain will enter a state where it is relaxed and cravings for alcohol are significantly reduced. A considerable amount of research has been conducted on this drug and the results consistently show that Acamprosate can substantially lower an alcoholic’s cravings. It is particularly effective when combined with activities such as psychotherapy. However, as with other anti-alcohol medications, it does have some unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, headaches, and issues with memory.

Baclofen and Topiramate

These two medications also show promise to eliminate alcohol addiction. Baclofen is the subject of intense study to determine how well it can help recovering alcoholics maintain their abstinence, while Topiramate, a drug known for its effectiveness of treating epilepsy is also being investigated for anti-alcohol characteristics. Some of the side effects which are associated with its use include reduced appetite, itching, burning skin and a reduced ability to concentrate. Alcoholism continues to remain a debilitating problem, but advances in medicine can alleviate it.