The following medications help curb cravings and prevent relapse. Click below on each drug to learn more.
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Naltrexone is an oral medication that is approved in several countries for the treatment of opiate addiction. In very low doses, it is being found to be a cost-effective means of treating a wide range of health concerns, including HIV/AIDS, certain types of cancer, and several autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders. Side effects are usually both mild and transitory.
Dr. J.D. Sinclair’s discovery of pharmacological extinction found that the drug Naltrexone, 50 mg tab when taken 1 hour before drinking can reverse the pathways in the brain caused by long-term drinking
When a person drinks alcohol, endorphins, the body’s naturally produced opiates, are released in the brain. Endorphins are hormones that provide a shortcut for learning. Our brains use these shortcuts to reinforce many behaviors. Every time a person drinks, endorphins are released, and the behavior is reinforced in the brain. If you have taken a Naltrexone tablet and then drink, the endorphins are still released by the alcohol, but they bounce off of the receptors that are blocked by the medication.
Baclofen helps in 3 ways: First, it is an anti-craving medication, then it reduces anxiety since there is much anxiety over quitting drinking. Lastly, it allows patients safely withdraw from alcohol.
Dr. Ameisen, in his book The End of My Addiction, describes how he came across a New York Times article about a cocaine addict being prescribed Baclofen to control spasms and noticing that it substantially reduced his cravings. Maybe the same thing would happen with alcohol, Ameisen thought.
He was forced to undertake a self-case study since he could find no one to research the effects of high doses of Baclofen and alcoholism. The drug manufacturer recommends only 30 mg a day to avoid side effects. That did nothing for craving. Dr. Ameisen found that the dosage that suppressed his craving was 270 mg daily. But a maintenance dose of 120 mg daily controlled anxiety and prevented cravings from recurring. He added 40 mg as needed in stressful situations. The two side effects of Baclofen are drowsiness and muscle weakness.
Topiramate – a drug used in the treatment of migraines and seizures – is gaining ground as an anti-craving drug for alcoholism. Other anti-convulsants, including Gabapentin and Valproate, have been investigated as possible treatments for alcohol dependence.
Dr. Bankole Johnson, chairman of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia, told Bloomberg News that Topamax does everything researchers want to see in a pharmaceutical treatment for alcoholism: “First, it reduces your craving for alcohol; second, it reduces the amount of withdrawal symptoms you get when you start reducing alcohol; and third, it reduces the potential for you to relapse after you go down to a low level of drinking or zero drinking.”
Topiramate may reduce dopamine release, thereby reducing alcohol cravings. Dopamine neurons are activated by alcohol and are believed to reinforce the craving associated with alcohol. Topiramate is thought to alter GABA function at a non-benzodiazepine site on the GABA A-receptor.
Acamprosate Calcium is one of the drugs currently approved for anti-craving or anti-relapse treatment in alcohol dependence. Acamprosate Calcium helps normalize brain activity, especially in the glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems, and diminishes alcohol cravings. Neurobiology has shown how the symptoms and consequences of addiction are mediated at the molecular level by neurotransmission in the brain.
Acamprosate Calcium reduces the physical distress, and emotional discomfort people usually experience when they stop drinking alcohol. Unlike Disulfiram (Antabuse), people can drink alcohol while taking the medication without experiencing adverse effects. Acamprosate Calcium works best for people who have already stopped drinking and want to maintain abstinence.
Antabuse is used along with counselling and support to treat alcoholism. Disulfiram works by blocking the processing of alcohol in the body. This causes you to have a bad reaction when you drink alcohol.
Chantix works as an anti-craving medication and has been used in the treatment of alcoholism.
Quietipine has been used in the treatment of alcohol dependence.
Gabapentin is an anti-convulsant and is sometimes used to prevent the adverse affects of alcohol withdrawal.