Alcohol Use Disorder AUD Treatment: MedlinePlus

Long-term alcohol misuse damages the brain’s ability to function properly. What works for one person may not work for another, but a professional can offer guidance. These drugs work by changing how the body reacts to alcohol or by managing its long-term effects. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for people who wish to cut back on drinking. Medication, while potentially helpful, might not be a magic bullet for alcohol abuse. Many insurers include the older treatments Antabuse and naltrexone on their lists of preferred drugs, as well as coverage for inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. It encompasses the conditions that some people refer to as alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction, and the colloquial term, alcoholism. In the U.S., approximately one-third of all adults will meet criteria for AUD at some point during their lives with approximately 15 million individuals meeting criteria within the last 12 months. Each year in the U.S., 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes, and it is estimated that AUD costs the U.S. at least $249 billion annually. People with AUD may need medical help to avoid life-threatening alcohol withdrawal symptoms if they decide to abruptly stop drinking. Withdrawal symptoms can include anxiety, tremors, nausea, and insomnia.

Press Play for Advice on Coping With Addiction

The development of medications to address the spectrum of unhealthy alcohol use across the broad range of health care settings has the potential to maximize benefits for future patients. The prevalence of unidentified or untreated unhealthy alcohol use remains high. With the advent of pharmacotherapy and models of counseling appropriate for use in primary care settings as well as in specialty care, clinicians have new tools to manage the range of alcohol problems across the spectrum of health care settings. By extending treatment to primary care, many people who do not currently receive specialty care may have increased access to treatment.

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), naloxone is one of a number of medications considered essential to a functioning health care system.
  • Treatment of alcohol withdrawal is best accomplished with benzodiazepines.
  • Topiramate is not approved for this use by the US Food and Drug Administration.
  • If you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing this form of withdrawal, seek medical attention immediately.
  • The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes.

Topiramate is not approved for this use by the US Food and Drug Administration. That means that it lasts for a long time, or it causes problems again and again. Most people who are alcoholics still feel a strong desire for alcohol even after they stop drinking. Researchers also have developed brief interventions to support adherence to alcoholism medications.

Co-Occurring Disorders and Other Health Conditions

People who have alcohol use disorder drink regularly and in large amounts. When their bodies don’t have alcohol, they experience withdrawal symptoms. Because it is metabolized by the liver, hepatotoxicity is possible, although uncommon. Patients with AUD may have liver dysfunction; therefore, caution is warranted.

medications for alcoholism

This means that the FDA has not deemed the drug to be safe or effective for alcohol use disorder, but the healthcare provider has decided it’s “medically appropriate” for their patient. With alcoholics, group therapies are often regarded as more effective than individual treatment. Such group therapies range from instructional lectures and superficial discussions to deep analytic explorations, psychodrama, hypnosis, psychodynamic confrontation, and marathon sessions. Mechanical Selecting the Most Suitable Sober House for Addiction Recovery aids include didactic motion pictures, movies of the patients while intoxicated, and recordings of previous sessions. Many institutional programs rely on a “total-push approach,” in which the patient is bombarded with multiple methods of treatment with the hope that one or more methods will affect the patient favourably. Other institutional programs rely on merely removing the patient from a stressful outside environment, with a period of enforced abstinence.


And because the parts of the brain linked to alcohol dependence can range from those regulating stress to appetite, finding the right medication can be challenging. Most people with an alcohol use disorder can benefit from some form of treatment. People who are getting treatment for AUD may also find it helpful to go to a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). If you have an AUD and a mental illness, it is important to get treatment for both. To diagnose AUD, a doctor performs a face-to-face evaluation, assessment of symptoms, and review of medical history, and obtains information from family members if applicable. The doctor conducts a diagnostic evaluation for any co-occurring mental health conditions.

  • It was first manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories under the brand name Antabuse.
  • Women who have alcohol-use disorders often have a co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis such as major depression, anxiety, panic disorder, bulimia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or borderline personality disorder.
  • It’s available as a daily pill, a monthly injection, and through a medication implant.
  • But she said that the patient’s primary care doctor mistakenly believed that prescribing the medication required additional training in addiction medicine and refused to write a prescription.

If you’re struggling with a drinking problem, work with your doctor to develop a plan to quit. You can also seek support from Alcoholics Anonymous and the National Helpline for SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Here’s what you need to know about the drugs that can help you stop drinking and where you can go for help.

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