It’s the Holy Grail in the world of addiction to find drugs that will block the craving for alcohol. There are three medications on the market that have been studied and show some benefits.
Pros and Cons of Drug Used for Alcohol Dependency or to Block Craving
Campral, also known as Acamprosate, is used to block craving. Studies have found a reduced incidence of relapse with veterans in Philadelphia who took this drug.
The daily dosage is two 333mg tablets, three times a day, and in my practice dealing with addiction and alcoholism, that has a limited benefit.
Topamax, or Toprimamate, an anti-seizure drug used to prevent migraines, is sometimes used to treat alcohol dependency and prevent alcohol cravings, but I’ve have had minimal success with it, and have found it to produce complications. It may cause mental slowing, cognitive slowing, and may effect the kidneys.
Naloxone is another drug that decreases the craving for alcohol. Ordinarily, it is used to block opiates, or to take someone out of an opiate-induced drug state. It does have a limited benefit in decreasing alcohol cravings.
Treatment of the Underlying Disorder for Those Addicted to Alcohol
In my practice, I treat the underlying disorder. For example, I’ve found that some people who have anxiety disorders — post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder — will use alcohol to minimize the symptoms of their disorder. In those cases, I’ve found that treatment of their disorders minimizes their use or craving of alcohol.
Drugs I Prescribe that Can Help Alcoholics with Side Affects of Anxiety, Depression and Sleeplessness
Common anti-depressants, such as Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro, Luvox, Celexa, or Prozac, can help recovering alcoholics with anxiety disorders. In some cases, Benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, Klonopin, or Xanax, can minimize their anxiety.
Drugs like Cymbalta, Effexor or Pristiq can be used to decrease panic, anxiety, or post-traumatic disorder symptoms. Some people who crave alcohol believe these drugs help them sleep, but, in reality, alcohol interferes with the sleep cycle. I prefer to prescribe other medications to help with sleep, such as Trazodone, Sinequan, Ambien, Sonata or Lunesta. Anti-depressants such as Trazodone, Sinequan and Doxepin are non-addictive, whereas long-term use of Ambien, Sonata, and Lunesta may lead to addiction.
Lifestyle Changes Absolutely Necessary For Alcoholics to Put In Place
Boredom is actually a big problem for those addicted to alcohol. It is important for recovering alcoholics to keep busy and structure their time. Being around people who do not drink alcohol is also very important.
Statistically, those who socialize with people who drink alcohol will also drink. Recovering alcoholics must be very careful. They cannot be around people who drink, go to events where alcohol is served or where their friends are going to drink, because they will also drink.
Rather, I advise that they take up sport activities and spend time at the gym or on a tennis court where there is a lot of physical exercise and no drinking.
To stop the cravings for alcohol, recovering alcoholics need to totally restructure their social life and way of living. Going out to dinner where people drink, or going to events where people drink is completely the wrong choice for them. They need to engage in activities where people are not drinking.
Methods that Help Reduce Cravings for Alcohol
To sum it up, we have looked at several different methods that help reduce cravings for alcohol.
2. Treatment of mental illness
3. Changing behavior and avoiding people, places, or things where people drink alcohol.
4. Structuring your day, keeping busy and taking part in activities where you are not drinking