Alcoholism continues to be a problem in America, with around 8.1 million people struggling with an addiction to alcohol. Despite the wide variety of alcoholism treatment options available, many people simply picture 12-Step support groups and meetings held in community centers where strangers say, “Hello, my name is John, and I’m an alcoholic,” and are immediately put off of pursuing help.
Group therapy has long been proven to be successful among those suffering from addiction to a substance that is extremely accessible and constantly surrounding them, but it isn’t the only option. There are a number of alcoholism medications in existence that are designed to help you break your habit and reliance on alcohol, although it is usually prescribed in conjunction with a form of personal therapy — the emotional barriers and wounds that alcohol addiction has caused need to be managed as well. Here are three of those medications.
- Disulfiram: Invented in 1951, this was the first alcoholism drug to be approved by the FDA. Known by its brand name Antabuse, disulfiram changes the way your body breaks down alcohol; by causing nausea, vomiting, headaches, and sweating whenever you take a drink, you’ll be put off of wanting to pick up a bottle. Unfortunately, it can be hard to commit to taking it (because it’s so extremely unpleasant) unless you have someone — like a family member, friend, or employer — monitoring your recovery.
- Naltrexone: If you drink while taking this drug, you’ll feel drunk but you won’t feel the pleasure and fun and usually comes with it. Essentially, the goal is to stop drinking from being associated with pleasure, just like Antabuse. Additionally, naltrexone can help curb cravings: just thinking about alcohol triggers a pleasure response in the brain, so it makes staying away from the liquid itself a little bit more bearable.
- Acamprosate: Alcohol withdrawal can cause a number of devastating symptoms — such as insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and simply feeling depressed — and, unfortunately, they can last for months after your last drink. Acamprosate (also known as Campral) eases these symptoms to make the road easier to travel.
With so many alcoholism medications designed to help you manage every step of the quitting process, there is no reason not to seek professional treatment.