Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a big issue affecting millions. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), harmful drinking causes 3.3 million deaths yearly and keeps increasing.
But there’s hope. AUD, which many call alcoholism, can be treated. The usual plan includes medical help and talking with someone (therapy). But some people might also use medicines along with these methods, known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Let’s find out more.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Use?
MAT is usually used for opioid problems, but it can help with alcohol issues as well. MAT uses medicines and talking to a counselor to help people who have trouble with drugs or alcohol get better. The medication can help stop strong urges to use. When combined with talking to someone and other therapies, it can help a person overcome their addiction.
Scientists say MAT works well for people with alcohol problems. Using meds and therapy together helps people avoid drinking longer and lowers the risk of ill health.
What Medicines Are Used to Treat Alcohol Problems?
There are three FDA-approved meds for alcohol use disorder:
This one has been around for a long time. It stops the body from breaking down alcohol, which builds up a substance called acetaldehyde. Drinking alcohol with this med makes people feel sick, like throwing up and having headaches. So, it can make someone think twice about drinking.
Naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol)
This med blocks the fun part of alcohol in the brain and reduces the urge to drink. If drinking doesn’t feel good, it’s easier to stop.
This medicine helps fix the brain chemicals that get messed up from drinking too much. It stops strong cravings and the bad feelings that come with quitting.
There are also other meds used for different health issues, like seizures or muscle problems, that can help with AUD:
Mostly used for seizures and headaches, it also helps lower the desire for alcohol by changing brain chemicals.
Normally used for muscle issues, it can also help with alcohol problems by calming the brain.
3 Reasons Why Meds are Used to Treat Alcoholism
Reduce Cravings: Meds can make those strong urges to drink go away. This can help someone stay sober, especially when they’re just starting.
Safe Quitting: Stopping drinking can be risky, but meds can make it safer by reducing the bad effects of withdrawal.
Brain Function: Meds can also help the brain work better for people with alcohol problems. This can help them think clearly and make good choices for their recovery.
It’s important to remember that meds alone won’t cure alcohol addiction. They work best when a good treatment plan involves talking to someone and learning new coping methods.
Find the Right Solution for You
Not everyone with AUD needs meds, and it might not be the right choice for everyone. But if you’re thinking about it, get help from a good program that includes talking to someone and learning how to deal with tough situations. Studies show that, when used correctly, meds can help reduce drinking, improve brain function, and increase the chances of staying away from alcohol.
If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You’re not alone. You can call Cornerstone of Recovery 24/7 at 866-572-9474 to speak with someone who can guide you on the journey to recovery. Your conversations will always be private.