Is There a Drug Treatment for Alcoholism?

Doctors often recommend drug treatment for alcoholism when a person is attempting to withdrawal from the substance. Due to the risk of serious symptoms or complications, medical supervision is always recommended. As part of the treatment for withdrawal, drugs may be used to ease symptoms and to reduce the cravings for alcohol. Doctors often like to reserve drug treatment for severe cases where symptoms or risks are high. Most don’t want to add drugs to an already addictive situation.

Depending on the situation, doctors may choose to use a variety of different drug treatments for alcoholism. The symptoms of withdrawal can range from nausea, headaches, and shakiness on the mild side to delirium tremors, convulsions, and seizures at the severe side. Death can be a possibility. A person’s history of alcohol consumption plays a role in the severity of the symptoms and the process of withdrawal.

Doctors sometimes use sedatives to help calm a patient undergoing alcohol withdrawal. The physician will control the dosage, keeping them at the lowest level possible, and gradually reduce the dose as the alcohol withdrawal symptoms decrease. Some doctors will only prescribe sedatives if the patient is experiencing seizures as part of the withdrawal process. Other drugs may also be used to help control symptoms.

Finding a treatment for alcoholism has frustrated professionals. Researchers have found that psychosocial treatments are only moderately effective. Because of this, medical professionals and alcohol counselors have considered drug therapies to help alcoholics in some cases.

Some drugs have received approval for treating alcohol. Some drugs influence brain and body function so that cravings are reduced. Compliance with such drugs can be a problem and there is some discussion of releasing a once a month injection of the drug which would be gradually reduced into the body.

Other drugs that are sometimes used make a person feel ill when alcohol is consumed. This helps keep the alcoholic from drinking and helps to reduce the craving. Some people learn to associate alcohol with feelings of illness.

Research continues for drugs that could be used to treat alcoholism. Some drugs, currently used for other illnesses, show some promise for treating alcohol. In addition, medical professionals are examining how combinations of drugs might prove more successful in treating alcoholism.

Drug treatment for alcoholism shows some promise although most doctors prefer to avoid it if possible. In situations with severe withdrawal symptoms, drug therapy may be necessary to keep a patient alive.

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