Alcohol Detox Medication
Finding out about the various possible drugs you could be prescribed during alcohol withdrawal is a good idea if you or your loved one is struggling with alcoholism. There are a few different types of alcohol detox medication, and these can give you a general idea of the sort of medicines you may be prescribed. Most medicines mainly help reduce the desire to drink or the effects of alcohol, but some are prescribed to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms. You can either complete alcohol detoxification with prescribed medicines at home or as an inpatient in a rehab clinic.
There are more physical risks associated with alcoholism for heavier drinkers. Generally speaking, anybody who drinks over 20 units per day will benefit from outpatient detoxification. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are usually managed with benzodiazepine prescriptions, and constant medical supervision is unnecessary. In more severe cases, alcohol detoxification should only be undertaken in an inpatient facility. Doctors are on-hand to manage withdrawal symptoms as they arise, and they can better manage cases of delirium tremens – the most serious type of alcohol withdrawal.
Benzodiazepines such as chlordiazepoxide are often prescribed to help manage the most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It helps to curb agitation and anxiety, and can therefore reduce the pressures to drink. There are potential dangers in using this strategy, in that benzodiazepines themselves can become a drug of abuse, so the lowest possible dose should be given for a maximum period of four weeks. Detoxification from alcohol shouldn’t last this long, and the prescription will only usually cover a week’s worth of medicine.
There are also drugs which reduce the craving for alcohol. These aren’t particularly useful during alcohol withdrawal, but they do reduce the temptation to drink and therefore help prevent relapse. One example of this type of drug is acamprosate, which impacts the levels of a chemical called gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA) within the brain. This is believed to be a contributing factor in cravings, so the drug may be prescribed during alcohol detox and afterwards. The prescription can continue for as long as six months.
Another type of alcohol detox medication blocks the effects of the substance. Naltrexone is an example of this type of drug, and it works by occupying the opioid receptors inside the brain. This means that this medicine isn’t suitable for any drinkers taking opioid painkillers such as codeine, because they will cease to be effective. By also stopping the effects of alcohol, it reduces the temptation to drink but it isn’t sufficient treatment in itself. A course of the drug can last for six months or longer, but is almost always combined with other medicines.
The final group of drugs to help during alcohol withdrawal are substances that react violently with alcohol. Disulfiram is one example of this type of medicine, and if an individual taking it drinks anything containing alcohol they’ll experience nausea, vomiting, chest pain and dizziness. This shouldn’t be the sole treatment offered during alcohol detoxification, but if combined with psychological counselling it can be effective. Alcohol rehab clinics might prescribe additional medicines to help during withdrawal.
If you or your loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, finding the right rehabilitation centre to help you through detoxification is essential. Alcohol detox is an important step towards abstaining from alcohol or managing your drinking, but further treatment is also required to deal with the deep-seated issues which lead people to addiction. We have a comprehensive knowledge of the different alcohol rehab centres located across the country, and we’ll suggest the best options to you. We’ll help you find outpatient or inpatient detoxification, and can explain the different approaches to treatment. Our advice is completely free, so get in touch with us today!