Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (cont.)

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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 1/21/2014

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