The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medicines for alcoholism (now called alcohol use disorder). They are only prescribed for people who have quit drinking. They don’t “cure” alcoholism.

Medicines for Alcoholism There are no medicines for alcoholism that can be prescribed for current drinkers to cause them to abstain.

Disulfiram
Disulfiram (brand names as Antabuse and Antabus) can be taken by an alcoholic. It causes a sever negative reaction if alcohol is consumed. This can help people quit drinking if they want. Of course, not taking the medication enables a person to drink alcohol without any unusual effects.
Antabuse works by stopping the body from completely breaking down alcohol. This causes a very high buildup of  acetaldehyde. This substance causes very unpleasant physical reactions.
Naltrexone
Naltrexone (naltrexone hydrochloride), is sold under the brand names Revia, Depade and Vivitrol. It works by reducing the craving for alcohol.
Naltrexone reduces cravings by stopping the brain from getting pleasure from the highs caused by drinking. But the medicine is not effective for all alcoholics.
Acamprosate
Acamprosate is sold as Campral. It reduces the physical and emotional discomforts experienced by alcoholics after they stop drinking. These include anxiety, sweating and sleep problems.
Acamprosate’s side effects tend to be minimal and it is not addictive. For this reason, it can be taken for as long as a year after drinking stops.

Medicines for Alcoholism Treatment: Summary

Disulfiram makes people sick if they drink alcohol. Naltrexone prevents them from experiencing pleasure (a “high”) from drinking, Acamprosate reduces the discomforts felt by alcoholics when they begin abstaining from alcohol.

Unfortunately, there are no “magic bullet” medicines for alcoholism treatment. But there are medicines that can help. These options can be discussed with your doctor. That medical expert knows your specific medical history. Therefore your doctor can provide informed advice about medicines for alcoholism.

Further Reading

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Filed Under: Alcoholism Treatments