Understanding Your Alcohol Detox Medication Options

During an alcohol detox program, doctors often prescribe an alcohol detox medication to help alcoholics deal with withdrawal symptoms and to help them resist drinking in the future. A number of drugs are commonly used and researchers continue to look for more options to fight alcoholisms. Doctors prescribe the medications for different aspects of the recovery process.

If you’re doctor recommends using a detox medication, find out as much information as you can about the medication. Knowing about potential side effects, uses, and how to properly take the drug will help you feel more comfortable with the drug and will increase your chances of success with it. Be sure to ask your doctor about any questions that you have and any side effects that you might encounter.

Some of the common detox medications that doctors prescribe include:


  • Acamprosate (Campral) helps control a person’s craving for alcohol. This medication is often used after detox to help the individual continue sobriety.



  • Disulfiram (Antabuse) makes an individual feel ill when they consume alcohol. The pleasurable effects of alcohol are slowed down and the person feels sick.



  • Naltrxone (ReVia) operates in the same way that disulfiram does.



  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1) can help prevent Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which causes permanent brain damage to some chronic alcoholics.



  • Anti-Anxiety medications may be used to treat delirium tremens which can happen during withdrawal.



  • Sedatives can be prescribed to help treat common withdrawal symptoms like headaches and nausea.



  • Painkillers are also sometimes prescribed for convulsions and seizures that can happen during detox.


Depending on the situation, doctors may prescribe other medications. In addition, other therapies may be used in detox situations including counseling, proper nutrition, acupuncture, and other ways to help support the individual going through detox.

Studies show that inpatient detox programs are more successful than outpatient ones. This could be due to the increased support and medical supervision of withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor or alcohol counselor about what options and medications may be right for your individual situation.

An alcohol detox medication can help you get and stay sober. However, you should think of medication as one part of a larger strategy. By approaching alcoholism from multiple angles, you’ll be more likely to find a treatment that works for you.

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