Medication for Alcoholism: What helps – What hurts
Medication for alcoholism can be used from helping get through detoxification to possibly kicking the habit itself. (I used habit here because I don’t care if you think alcoholism is learned, a disease, a curse, or anything else. If it’s a problem, it’s a problem by any name.)
Of all the drugs being tried Ibogaine may be the most useful in really dealing with the problem. Some people say it is nearly a cure. It has both anti-addictive and hallucinogenic properties. Apparently it is a terrible experience to use Ibogaine and when people are done they don’t want to ingest anything that might be addictive. It is legal almost everywhere on the planet except in the United States.
For helping with the detoxification process we use benzodiazepines. Usually Ativan, a long acting depressant/tranquilizer type drug. This is to help control the shaking. I’ve been given these before. They help but, not nearly as much as a few drinks. Of course, that would only put off the shaking until the alcohol wore off. Sometimes antipsychotics will be used for people who don’t respond to the benzodiazepines.
Naltrexone is used after detoxing to help lessen the intensity of cravings. There are other drugs for this too.
Finally, there is Disulfiram. The dreaded antabuse. This induces vomiting when people using it drink. It can also seriously hurt people who take it and drink anyway. Antabuse blocks the breakdown of acetaldehyde, a metabolite used to breakdown alcohol. Acetaldehyde is a lot like formaldehyde. Imagine that building up in your blood stream. With every drink a little more poison in your body. If you have ever come across someone forced into treatment who happened to be drinking and they were really flushed, almost red, that could be Antabuse. At least that was the consensus at the tavern where I first encountered the phenomenon.
Medication for Alcoholism