What Medications Treat Alcoholism

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism, then it’s important to get medical help immediately. One question that’s always asked is “what medications treat alcoholism?” At the moment, there are currently three medications that are used to treat alcohol addiction:

  1. Naltrexone
  2. Acamprosate (Campral)
  3. Disulfiram (Antabuse)

In this article, we’ll tell you how each of these medicines fight alcoholism, but please, we advise you to seek the help of medical professionals before taking any medication.


Naltrexone is a drug used to reduce any cravings for alcohol as well as the amount that alcoholics drink. This medicine also comes under generic names such as Revia (which is taken orally each day) and Vivitrol (which is taken intravenously once a month). Naltrexone is most effective when it is done with psychological treatment and medical support. The drug does come with side effects and people may experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. The good news is that these side effects do not last very long. More serious side effects may also be experienced such as migraines and tiredness. When the Naltrexone is abused, it may damage the liver. Naltrexone should never be used if an individual has used drugs or alcohol within a 10 day period.

Many alcoholics choose to use Vivitrol above Revia because it’s easier to manage as some find it difficult to keep on using the drug daily. However, the Vivitrol injection has been known to cause skin problems around the area it was injected. If any discomfort is experienced around the injection area, please seek medical help immediately. It’s also been found that Naltrexone doesn’t work on just anyone. Research has shown that the drug may work better for individuals with a certain gene and it will be less effective for those without it.

Acamprosate (Campral)

Acamprosate (Campral) is one the newest drugs on the scene to be given the green light for alcohol addiction treatment. The drug sedates the brain and helps minimise the desire to drink alcohol by slowing down the movement and use of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) from the neurotransmitters. Research has proven that when it’s done in conjunction with psychological treatment, it successfully minimises any cravings for alcohol and it also enhances the quality of life for those with more serious alcohol addiction symptoms. Acamprosate (Campral) does have side effects and it is known to cause diarrhoea and migraines as well as affecting the memory ability of the brain. Those who suffer from kidney problems should only use Acamprosate under the supervision of a medical doctor.

Disulfiram (Antabuse)

Disulfiram is a drug that causes side effects when the alcoholic drinks alcohol. For example, should an alcoholic be at a party and drink alcohol while they are using Disulfiram, they will experience side effects such as migraines and vomiting. These side effects has the ability to last for anything up to 2 hours depending on how much of the drug was used or how much alcohol was consumed. One dosage of Disulfiram can last for 2 weeks, but it’s advised to only use the amount stipulated by your medical doctor as drug overdoses may occur. Disulfiram (Antabuse) works best when it is used with family therapy and group counselling, as the alcoholic will be surrounded by people who support and monitor them. The best way to treat alcoholism however, is by getting alcoholic treatment inside an alcohol rehabilitation centre.

If you or a loved one is addicted to alcohol, we provide access to the best private alcohol addiction rehabilitation centres in South Africa, the United Kingdom and Thailand. Call us now and let one of our qualified addiction counsellors assist in finding the right treatment suited to your needs.

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