You may have heard of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in connection with Opioid Use Disorder.
This treatment option uses medications, which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with counseling and behavioral therapy, to treat substance abuse.
MAT can also be used for Alcohol Use Disorder. When someone with a problem with alcohol is receiving help from a MAT program, he is getting a controlled amount of medication to relieve cravings and help control the urge to drink.
Naltrexone (Brand Name: ReVia)
As an alcoholism treatment, naltrexone is a medication that reduces a patient’s urge to drink. It may help someone drink less, stop drinking, and become more confident turning down alcohol in social settings. It can’t be used as a means of reducing the effects of alcohol that has already been consumed (a “sober up” pill).
Disulfiram (Brand Name: Antabuse)
This medication may be given to patients being treated for chronic alcoholism. It works by blocking an enzyme involved in metabolizing alcohol in the body. When someone who is taking Disulfiram drinks alcohol, she will feel sick to her stomach.
Patients taking this medication need to be aware that many products and foods contain small amounts of alcohol, and that these should be avoided while taking this medicine:
- Cooking wine
- Cough medicine
Certain desserts are prepared with sauces containing brandy or other alcohols. These should also be avoided, since they could cause a reaction with Disulfiram.
Vivitrol (Brand Name: Naltrexone – Injection)
Vivitrol injection is a medication used to treat alcohol addiction by reducing the desire to drink. It may help a particular client to either reduce the amount he is drinking or stop drinking alcohol entirely. This medication will not have any effect on alcohol that someone has already consumed.
To start on a Vivitrol treatment plan, a patient must be sober (not actively drinking alcohol), not having any drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms or have taken any opioids (prescription or illicit) within the past two weeks.
Since this medication can cause liver damage at high doses, patients with liver failure or hepatitis can’t receive it. Patients are cautioned against using opioids while on Vivitrol, since it can lead to sudden, intense withdrawal symptoms.
Vivitrol is given by injection into a muscle. The injection is usually given on a monthly basis and can only be given by a doctor or a nurse at a clinic. Alternatively, this medication can be prescribed in oral tablets to be taken daily.
Seek Professional Help for Alcohol Addiction
If you are looking for help for yourself or a loved one who is living with alcohol addiction, you’ll want to make sure you are looking at the right source. Many primary care physicians haven’t received training in medical school about how to treat alcohol and drug addiction. Your doctor may confirm that a substance abuse issue is present, but be at a loss as to how to offer further help.
The best option is to seek professional help from a drug and alcohol treatment center. These facilities are staffed by experienced medical professionals and counselors who perform a complete assessment of each client on arrival. Once the assessment is completed, the client and staff work together to devise an individual treatment plan that fits the client’s goals.