The Road to Recovery
One has only to consider the complexities and all-encompassing effects of alcohol to know that the road to recovery is long and hard. But the goal is achievable, and the effort can be very rewarding. Recovery begins with recognizing and admitting that one definitely has a problem with alcohol.
Are there any approved medications for treating alcohol addiction?
Currently the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved three drugs for use in treating the disease of alcoholism. They are naltrexone (ReVia), acamprosate (Cam-pral), and the anticonvulsant drug, topiramate.
For successful recovery to occur, the person addicted to alcohol must honestly acknowledge the damage done to herself and those around her as a result of the use of alcohol. Once this acknowledgement has occurred, she will recognize that the benefits of recovery outweigh the risk of continuing the addiction.
Once the decision to enter recovery has been made, a person must be assessed for withdrawal symptoms. If there is any risk for delirium or seizures, medical intervention will be necessary for safety. Typically, a sedative such as diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), or lorazepam (Ativan) will be used and gradually tapered down.
Propranolol (Inderal) and other beta-adrenergic blockers may be used in treating withdrawal symptoms by reducing tremors, lowering heart rate, and lowering blood pressure. Disulfiram (Antabuse) has been used historically as a deterrent to drinking. It interferes with normal metabolizing of alcohol by the liver, resulting in a toxic byproduct that leads to nausea. The cons of disulfiram are that the desire for alcohol remains after the nausea and the drug can also cause hepatitis.
If someone is dually diagnosed, other medications may be used to treat the mental illness that is present along with the alcohol addiction. Many other approaches may be used in treating alcohol addiction. Psychotherapy, behavior modification, nutritional therapy, support groups, family therapy, and other modalities may all be necessary for successful recovery. Each individual along with his treatment providers must determine which interventions will most likely lead to a life-saving recovery.