Psychiatrist Questions Psychiatrist

What drug is commonly used to treat alcohol addiction?

My friend has an alcohol addiction and I want to help him. What drug is commonly used to treat alcohol addiction?

2 Answers

Someone with an alcohol addiction needs medically guided treatment first through detox (to safely come off the alcohol-this is where they will prescribe a medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms.) and then psychological treatment (either inpatient or intensive outpatient). Additionally, they will need a support group after treatment like AA or celebrate recovery many churches have to hold them accountable with a sponsor, etc.
There are several that are used. The most commonly used one is Naltrexone which comes in an oral formulation as well as a monthly injection. It does NOT reduce cravings but if someone does drink, they are less likely to spiral out of control because it blocks the rewarding effects of alcohol. Another one that is FDA-approved is acamprosate which has some evidence for reducing alcohol relapses. Both are modestly effective. Off-label medications such as topiramate and gabapentin are also used to assist with alcohol use disorder. AA and psychotherapy are very important parts of the treatment.