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Medications Used in Alcohol Abuse Treatment

alcohol addiction treatment

Naltrexone may be prescribed to treat alcohol addiction.

Deciding to be treated for alcohol abuse is a large step which many people are too scared to make. They fear the expenses, the withdrawal symptoms, and are often misinformed or misguided about current treatment options available to them. At one time, recovering from alcohol abuse was an unpleasant and costly matter as there were very few treatment options available; however, it has become a much more pleasant process in today’s modern world. Medications are available to help patients manage the pain and discomfort during the withdrawal process and many treatment facilities now have sliding scale costs depending on the treatment required.

Why Should I Get Treatment?

Alcohol abuse is damaging on a variety of levels. Alcohol can affect the brain, heart, liver, pancreas, immune system increase cancer risks, or even result in death. Not only are there many physical health effects, but alcohol can also damage a person in many other ways, such as: disruption or loss of bonds with close friends and family, job loss, loss or damage of personal property, and even homelessness.
Alcohol abuse isn’t just costly to the suffering individual; it’s expensive on a large scale economic level. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol problems cost the United States about $224 billion per year including health care costs, property damage costs and lost productivity costs.

Getting treatment isn’t just a good decision for yourself and those close to you; it’s beneficial to everyone in the long run.

What Medications Are Used?

Once a patient decides to begin alcohol abuse treatment, the first step of every treatment process is detoxification. Detoxification is done to clean out the body and give the patient a fresh start on the road to recovery. Where patients once had to suffer through the withdrawal symptoms during detoxification, medications used in alcohol abuse treatment usually include benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, and naltrexone.

Benzodiazepoines are anti-anxiety medications and have muscle relaxing properties which will help the person through the physically painful withdrawal symptoms. Anticonvulsants are often prescribed in combination with benzodiazepoines to help assist with withdrawal symptoms, most commonly for seizures.

Once detoxification is complete, naltrexone is given to help reduce the desire to drink and is often taken in tablet form by supervision in rehab or at home as prescribed. According to the US National Library of Medicine, if abused naltrexone can cause liver damage so supervision is highly recommended.

How Do I Get Treatment?

Once a patient has decided they are ready to break their alcohol addiction, it is recommended that they see a doctor or register themselves in a rehabilitation center. In both situations, a medical professional will sit down with the patient and assess the level of the addiction and recommend the best possible treatment program. Both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation facilities are available and each type of facility will have many program options available to fit the financial and physical needs of the patient. Medication will be prescribed and will likely be administered at the treatment facilities to prevent abuse or potential overdose. For those with less serious issues, medication may be prescribed that can be taken at home.

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