Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (Alcohol Use Disorder)

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuideAlcohol Abuse Pictures Slideshow: 12 Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking

Alcohol Abuse Pictures Slideshow: 12 Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking

What medications treat alcohol use disorder?

There are few medications that are considered effective in treating moderate to severe alcohol use disorder. Naltrexone (Trexan, Revia, or Vivitrol) has been found effective in managing this illness. It is the most frequently used medication in treating alcohol use disorder . It decreases the alcoholic's cravings for alcohol by blocking the body's euphoric ("high") response to it. Naltrexone is either taken by mouth on a daily basis or through monthly injections. Disulfiram (Antabuse) is prescribed for about 9% of alcoholics. It decreases the alcoholic's craving for the substance by producing a negative reaction to drinking. Acamprosate (Campral) works by decreasing cravings for alcohol in those who have stopped drinking. Ondansetron (Zofran) has been found to be effective in treating alcohol use disorder in people whose problem drinking began before they were 25 years old. None of these medications have been specifically approved to treat alcoholism in people less than 18 years of age. Baclofen (Lioresal) has been found to be a potentially effective treatment to decrease alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Some research indicates that psychiatric medications like lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) and sertraline (Zoloft) may be useful in decreasing alcohol use in people who have another mental-health disorder in addition to alcohol use disorder.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/5/2015
VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Treatments

    What treatment has been effective for your alcoholism?

    Post View 7 Comments
  • Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Experience

    Please describe your experience with alcoholism.

    Post View 8 Comments
  • Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Symptoms

    What were the symptoms of alcohol abuse or alcoholism in a friend or relative?

    Post View 2 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors