Alcoholism Treatment Medication

Alcoholism is one vice, that really spins a person's wheel of life the other way round. Mostly rehab is a good option to get rid of this incessant habit, but often, rehab doesn't do the trick. At such times, for the treatment, medication is the only resort.
"Joanna was a big time executive in a high-tech MNC. She was diligent, disciplined and ambitious. She had, but, one flaw. She was alcoholic. She had been addicted to alcohol since 7 years, ever since she had her first break up. Joanna hid her alcohol abuse very well, and no one, but her best friend, knew of her vulnerability. Joanna tried very hard to rehabilitate herself from the plight she was in. But every time she went to rehab, the relapses got worse. She did not want her career to bare the brunt of her drinking, so, if she were up all night drinking, she used to still go to work the next day. This caused major health hassles for her. Finally, she broke down and approached a counselor for guidance and medication. Soon after her treatment, Joanna, could drink socially without over-dosing and could handle her health and life much better"

As per surveys approximately 30 % of alcoholics relapse after alcohol rehab. These relapses often lead to heightened intensity of addiction. For such cases, medication can prove to be a good option. Certain medicines work at ridding the individual of the alcohol craving, as well as detoxifying the system. Most of these medicines have been recently perfected. Let us understand what is involved in treatment through medication.

There are basically two types of medications that, when used together, can help in treating alcohol addiction. The first one is to reduce craving of alcohol. These are tranquilizers called benzodiazepines. These are to be taken in the start of the alcohol treatment as they aid a firm withdrawal foundation. The patients do not feel the strong urges and cravings to drink alcohol like they would during rehab. Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs that sedate and tranquilize the patient. They have antianxiety, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and amnesic effects that help the patient deal with the initial stages of the alcohol withdrawal most effectively. To this end, Valium and Librium are the most popular and easily found drugs used.

The second type of drug is taken at a slightly later stage of withdrawal. At this stage, it is imperative for the patient to stay sober. The cravings and frustration is higher for the patient. Hence, these drugs help them stay away from alcohol. Naltrexone is the approved drug to this effect. Naltrexone has to be taken in accompaniment of counseling. Together, naltrxone and counseling, work at ridding the person of a heavy drinking habit. Naltrexone is used for rapid alcohol detox. It is used to get rid of opioid dependence. Naltrexone works in two shifts, the first shift works on reducing cravings while it is being taken. The second shift works when naltrexone is taken in conjunction with normal drinking. This reduces the craving over time. The first effect will only persist while the naltrexone is being taken. However, the second effect persists as long as the alcoholic does not drink without taking naltrexone first.

Another age-old method of treatment that uses medication, is Aversion Therapy. In this treatment the patient is given a disulfiram. Disulfirams, basically, cause an acute sensitivity to alcohol. They induce nausea and vomiting when the patient consumes alcohol. Over time, the patient will find himself lesser and lesser attracted to alcohol, hence eventually, making them stop drinking alcohol. Disulfiram, in fact, being considered for treating cocaine dependence and cancer treatment as well.

No matter which method or medication you use to treat alcoholism. The biggest requirement for the system to work, is the willingness of the patient. As Oprah says, "The patient needs to reach their own rock bottom". They need to realize, that the high alcohol gives them, is caused due to severe damage occurring in their system. This is where I sign off!! Stay sober!!
By Rashida Khilawala
Last Updated: 9/23/2011
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