Drug medication is so important when it comes to helping alcoholics wean off their dependency on alcohol
October 02, 2017
(press release: summitbehavioralhealth) // New Jersey // Maria Ulmer MA, LMFT, CAADC | Chief Clinical Officer
What Are Some Facts About Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol addiction is a problem that continues to plague people in the U.S., and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 percent of all adults 18 years of age or older said that they engaged in at least one day of binge drinking – defined as consuming five or more alcoholic beverages within a two-hour period. (1)
Furthermore, 30,000 people die each year due to some action related to alcohol, and nearly 20,000 people die of the alcohol-related liver disease each year.
Clearly, alcoholism is a serious issue in the U.S., and the only solution that can help people in the throes of this disease is to seek quality alcohol abuse treatment.
One of the methods used in treatment programs is drug medication, which may seem counterintuitive or even illogical, but can be very effective for several reasons.
What Medication Helps During Alcohol Detox / Detoxification
Alcoholics who decide to seek alcohol abuse treatment must first undergo detoxification, which can be a harrowing and challenging process.
In many movies and TV shows, this is known as going “cold turkey,” and the body’s reaction to the sudden lack of alcohol can take a brutal physical toll.
This can include symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, irritability, an increase in blood pressure, and tremors that last for hours. And if alcohol detoxification is not handled properly, patients can suffer heart attacks, seizures, and even a stroke.
That’s why drug medication is so important when it comes to helping alcoholics wean off their dependency on alcohol.
Does Benzodiazepines Have Proven Effective for Detox
There are several drugs that have been successful in helping to treat alcohol addiction, but one of the most effective is benzodiazepines.
These are sedatives that help to soothe anxiety and fear and reduce the stress levels of alcoholics who are going through withdrawal.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that slow down the central nervous system…and provide a variety of useful tranquilizing effects. Aside from relieving symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, benzodiazepines are also commonly prescribed to treat insomnia, muscle spasms, involuntary movement disorders, anxiety disorders, and convulsive disorders. (2)
Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed for alcohol detoxification that lasts three days, but because there is a risk of dependency with this class of drugs, rehab experts only recommend their use for short-treatment of alcohol withdrawal.
Naltrexone Changes How Brain Perceives of Alcohol
Another medication used to treat alcohol addiction is naltrexone, which has a dampening effect on the pleasure centers of the brain. Alcohol has been found to trigger the release of dopamine, a chemical produced by the brain when it senses something pleasurable.
To maintain this feeling of pleasure, alcoholics will continue to drink so that their brains produce more dopamine.
Naltrexone blocks the receptors to the brain that create the pleasure of drinking alcohol. Alcoholics can take this medication as a pill or by injection. There are some mild side effects, including drowsiness and nausea, but naltrexone can help alcoholics withdraw from alcohol because it takes away the pleasure they derive from drinking.
One North Carolina woman who had attended many Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings and attended multiple alcohol abuse facilities without much success, said that naltrexone worked so well for her that it permanently curbed her desire to drink. (3)
But she admitted that the drug would not have worked without the personal counseling she also received from a psychiatrist.
In fact, these drugs should not be viewed in a vacuum, as they are most effective during the withdrawal phase of alcohol abuse. But for alcoholics to regain control of their lives, they must attend in-patient and outpatient counseling.
Acamprosate Affects Brain Chemistry In Alcoholics
Acamprosate is the new medication on the block, and it helps alcoholics by reducing the effects of withdrawal, such as anxiety and irritability.
Withdrawal symptoms can be huge obstacles to alcoholics gaining sobriety, because they make alcoholics feel as if the physical symptoms of not drinking are too big to overcome. This medication is made in pill form, and requires patients to take several dosages a day.
Does Seeking Medically Supervised Detox and Long-Term Alcohol Abuse Treatment Help?
Many alcoholics are unaware of the number of different drugs that are available to help them curb their desire to drink. That’s in large part because the idea of taking one drug to help you stop taking another drug seems illogical at best, and dangerous at worst.
But the truth is that these medications have proven to be effective at helping control the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that are such a challenge when alcoholics begin long-term treatment.
If you live in New Jersey, MA or PA and are struggling with alcohol abuse please check us out. Visit our locations page.
About Summit ….
Our depth of understanding and willingness to do whatever it takes to facilitate the path in which a person becomes free from the alcohol addiction is unmatched. The Professional and Medically supervised approach attached to a holistic atmosphere equips the struggling to gain victory over their addiction. Don’t wait call today. Our behavioral health professionals are standing by at 1-855-855-9199.