Drug Treatment Specific to Alcohol Dependency and Recovery

Key Points

• Disulfiram can be regarded as an aversive agent.

• Naltrexone produces a surmountable opiate blockage and diminishes the reinforcing effect of alcohol.

• Depot naltrexone has greater efficacy than oral naltrexone in alcohol use disorders.

• Acamprosate reduces the urge to drink in some patients.

Treatment of alcohol abuse and dependency with medications has long been a challenging and controversial topic. Drug treatment of alcohol abuse can be divided into drugs used for detoxification (see earlier discussion) and those used to reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption after detoxification and for relapse prevention. Pharmacologic interventions for alcoholism have been reviewed (Fuller et al., 2003). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now approves three drugs for alcohol treatment to reduce or eliminate consumption: disulfiram (Antabuse), acamprosate (Campral), and naltrexone (ReVia) as well as long-acting naltrexone (Vivitrol).

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