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Posted on November 11th, 2016

Alcohol Detox- Part 3: Effective medications

Alcohol Detox- Part 3: Effective medications

Alcohol detox is the process of cessation of alcohol and substituting it with some cross-tolerant drugs that have effects similar to alcohol. The process helps an individual recover from his/her addiction or dependence on alcohol without dealing with any of the withdrawal symptoms.

Recovering from alcohol abuse or alcoholism involves abstaining from alcohol. The first step in this is undergoing detox. There are different types of detox treatments available to treat alcohol addiction such as inpatient and outpatient treatments. However, detoxification can lead to a number of alcohol withdrawal symptoms (AWS). These typically include anxiety, headache, nausea, seizures, insomnia, high blood pressure and delirium tremens.

Generally, patients find it difficult to handle AWS and try to avoid these symptoms by opting out of alcohol detox. But, there are several medications that can help patients avoid AWS while undergoing treatment for their addiction to alcohol, and help them stay on course.

In continuation to our series “Alcohol detox” that aims to help develop a better understanding of the process, this article talks about some of the medications that can help avoid AWS and treat addiction to alcohol. Some of them are:

1. Acamprosate

 Acamprosate effectively curbs cravings for alcohol by stabilizing the chemical balance in the brain and bars certain receptors while activating others. This medication helps in detox when used in combination with other treatments such as abstinence from drinking. This is usually recommended to patients who have either stopped drinking or are in the process to do so. However, it should not be used by people who are still drinking heavily or abuse alcohol excessively so as to avoid any sort of complications.

2. Disulfiram

It is an anti-drinking medication that helps one abstain from alcohol. When an individual drinks alcohol and takes this medication, the combination produces certain unpleasant reactions in the body and the person develops negative feelings towards alcohol. This is because the medication increases the level of acetaldehyde, a toxic substance produced by metabolizing alcohol. A few common symptoms experienced by an individual when taking this medication in combination with alcohol are flushing, sweating, blurred vision, anxiety, vomiting and nausea.

3. Naltrexone

An alternative to Acamprosate, Naltrexone is a drug that also helps people reduce their cravings for, or abstaining from, alcohol. The drug is used in combination with other medications and interrupts the production of endorphins, as a result of consuming alcohol, in the human brain. This, in turn, diminishes the feelings of pleasure that a person experiences while drinking alcohol, and so reduces his craving. Chemically, the drug is not a cure for alcoholism but can work effectively as an anti-addiction drug for many people.

4. Nalmefene

Originally known as Nalmetrene, Nalmefene is an opioid antagonist used in the treatment of alcohol addiction. According to a study, “Nalmefene: a new approach to the treatment of alcohol dependence,” the opioid system is involved in alcohol dependence. This is because alcohol stimulates release of opioids, which increases the dopamine levels, and induces rewards and positive feelings. On the other hand, the study notes, “Antagonists of this system, including naltrexone and nalmefene, are able to reduce alcohol consumption in humans by reducing the positive reward effect of alcohol, as well as its sedative and dysphoric properties. These agents reduce alcohol craving in response to external cues.”

Help for detox

With 16.3 million adults suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2014, in the U.S., according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), it is important to be aware of the various treatments available for recovery from alcoholism.

Detox is an essential step in the process of withdrawing from alcohol. An individual is less likely to relapse if he has a strong will and support from family, friends as well medical assistance. If you or someone you know is looking for detox treatment centers in Arizona, the Arizona Detox Helpline can assist you in finding out the best detox centers in Arizona. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 593-8453 or chat online with one of our experts for advice on detoxification treatment centers in Arizona.

Read the other articles of the series, “Alcohol detox”:

Part 1: What is alcohol withdrawal syndrome?

Part 2: Ways to handle alcohol withdrawal syndrome