How to quit alcohol with medication

Alcohol and Prescription Medication

If you are trying to quit alcohol, certain medications can help you. However, you have to keep in mind that there is no magic pill that can give you relief from alcoholism the moment you want to and the right medication for a particular person can always vary depending on several factors. Hence, when you are planning to take the assistance of medicines to quit alcohol, the first thing you need to do is to visit a doctor who will judge your case and decide the right medication for you. You also need to keep in mind that the drug will only help you to quit the addiction but you have to quit it on your own.

There are different types of medications for quitting alcohol and it should be decided by you and your doctor about the right medications for your case. This article will inform you about some of the common medication for quitting alcohol, how these medications work and how they can help you to get rid of the addiction.

Antabuse for quitting alcohol

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Antabuse is one of the oldest medicines around that can be very helpful for quitting alcohol addiction. The generic name of this drug is Disulfiram and it is around since 1951. The working process of antabuse is simple; it makes you extremely sick for having even minimum alcohol. When you are on this drug, you know that you cannot drink as that will make you sick to the stomach. As you know that it will not generate any pleasantness rather only discomfort, automatically you will start staying away from the drink.

Antabuse is effective and it actually reduces the cravings for alcohol and the chance of relapse. Antabuse is also effective for stopping alcohol addiction in young adults. Once you have started taking antabuse, your body starts resisting alcohol in it, and in order to drink again you have to stop the medication at least one to two weeks prior, which gives you plenty of time to think and take the right decision.

Do’s and don’ts of antabuse

When you are taking antabuse to get rid of alcohol addiction it is really important that you start the medication only after talking thoroughly with your doctor. Your doctor will inform you in detail about all the do’s and don’ts while you are on Antabuse. Some of the common points that you should keep in mind while taking this medications are,

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  • Do not start antabuse within 24 hours of having a drink. You should start this medication only once your system is free from alcohol. The time it takes for someone to remove all the alcohol in the body after a normal drink varies depending on a number of factors including the body weight and the amount of water taken in that span, but normally, within 24-36 hours the alcohol is washed off completely from a healthy body. So, start the medicine only after 24-36 hours of having a drink.
  • When you are on antabuse, even a minimum amount of alcohol in your system can produce reactions like nausea, vomiting, headache, racing heart beat and others. So, when you are on this medication, you have to avoid alcohol completely.
  • When you are on antabuse make sure that you do not eat anything that comes with alcohol in it. You might have the dishes cooked in wine even when you are on antabuse if the alcohol has all evaporated during the cooking. Having cakes or even chocolates that might come with alcohol in them can be enough to produce reactions in your body when you are on antabuse, so stay away from them.
  • People also prefer to use a non-alcoholic mouthwash while on antabuse. However, you really need not to stop using colognes and body sprays that might come with alcohol because you are on antabuse, as the amount of alcohol absorbed through the skin is really less.

Quitting alcohol with naltrexone

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Naltrexone is another medication that can be very helpful for quitting alcohol. It works as a receptor blocker and stops the pleasure received through drinking. This drug also helps in stopping the alcohol cravings by blocking the endorphin receptors in the brain.  Naltrexone takes away the pleasure you get from alcohol and hence automatically the person starts feeling less and less enthusiastic about drinking.

However, it is important for the patients to keep in mind that to get the best outcome from this medication it is important to use it as a part of a whole treatment as suggested by his/her doctor. If you drink while you are on Naltrexone you will not have any reactions but it will only make the alcohol least pleasurable for you.

Do’s and don’ts of naltrexone

It is important to use this drug safely and you should use it only under the prescription of your doctor. Naltrexone is currently available in two forms.  The tablet form needs you to take one medicine each day. There is also an injectable form of the same which you need to take once in a month. You should discuss with your doctor to decide the best option in your case.

  • Before you start with Naltrexone it is really important to ensure that your liver is in proper condition as the drug is metabolized by the liver so if you have liver problems, it might not be really suitable for your consumption.
  • In case you start seeing any symptoms of liver problems while you are on Naltrexone, check out with your doctor immediately to ensure that your liver is able to metabolize the drug properly.
  • Naltrexone is not the best medication option particularly for long time alcoholics, as often the alcoholics already have liver issues, which can be deteriorated due to the consumption of this medication. Hence, it is really important that you consult your doctor before taking this medicine for quitting alcohol.
  • When you are on Naltrexone therapy, it is best to completely stay away from opiate drugs or even opiate derivatives. Naltrexone blocks the same receptors to which the opiates attach and hence taking opiates on Naltrexone is in your system or taking Naltrexone when opiates are already there can trigger serious reactions in the body.

Acamprosate for stopping alcohol intake

Acamprosate is the other medication that is used for quitting alcohol. This medication is currently available under the brand name of Campral. Unlike Antabuse, it does not produce any reactions in the body if you happen to have alcohol while on this drug.

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Acamprosate also blocks the receptors in the brain but instead of blocking the endorphin receptors, it helps in blocking the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol. This medication can be perfect for people who have been on alcohol for a long time and are not able to tolerate the withdrawal symptoms which are propelling them to get back to booze again. This medication can be helpful to reduce the withdrawal symptoms like irritability, insomnia, restlessness.

Do’s and don’ts of acamprosate

This medicine is usually taken orally, thrice a day.  In order to take this medicine safely it is important that you follow the suggestions of your doctor accurately.

  • If you have kidney ailments or if you had kidney ailments at some point in your life, this drug might not be suitable for you. It relies on your kidneys for being removed from the system and if you already have kidney issues, it might deteriorate the condition.
  • Also do not take this drug if you have allergies from sodium sulfate or sulfite drugs. Sulfite sensitivity is common amongst people with asthma and hence, before you take this medication it is really important to ensure that you are not sensitive to its components.
  • In some cases, depression or feeling of suicide have been reported after having Acamprosate, so if you are on this medication and you feel any of these symptoms you should inform your doctor at the earliest and follow his/her instructions.

Topiramate for quitting alcohol

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Topiramate is another medication that has shown very positive results in clinical studies for quitting alcohol. However, this drug has not yet been approved by the FDA and hence if it is suitable for you or not that should be fully decided by your doctor. This drug alters the chemicals that are related with the reward center of the brain. It reduces the feeling of reward by drinking and also helps in reducing the alcohol cravings.

Do’s and don’ts of topiramate use

Topiramate is gives orally on a daily basis and usually the dose is increased slowly over a period of time to get the desired results.

  • One of the most dreaded side effects which might or might not develop due to treatment with Topiramate is altering the vision. In some cases it has been reported to have some negative effects on the eyes, and in such cases it is important to report to your doctor immediately.
  • You should never stop taking topiramate all together as that can produce severe reaction in the body. It needs to be stopped slowly over a period of time. So, always consult with your doctor in detail before starting or stopping the treatment.

While the above medications can be actually helpful for quitting alcohol, these medicines are usually suggested along with other therapies and treatments for curing the condition.  Following your doctor’s suggestions line by line can be the best way to quit the addiction with the help of medicines.