Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Effective For Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a complex brain disease characterized by uncontrolled drinking and the inability to stop drinking due to physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. 

You may be suffering from alcoholism if you feel like you have to drink, cannot control how much you drink, or feel bad when you can’t drink. Once an individual has developed alcoholism, their body becomes dependent on alcohol. This means the person will develop withdrawal symptoms if they don’t have alcohol in their bloodstream.

Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Effective For Alcoholism?

The Combination of Alcohol Treatments Works Best

Alcoholism treatment can vary from person to person. However, most find a combination of treatments works best. Alcoholism treatment usually always starts with a medically supervised detox program. If individuals stop drinking and experience tremors (shaking), hallucinations, or seizures, they need medical attention immediately. It can be extremely dangerous trying to withdraw from alcohol alone.

What is The Next Step In Alcohol Dependence Recovery?

Once the individual has been successfully detoxed, either an inpatient, residential, or outpatient treatment program of some sort is the next step. During treatment, they will learn about the disease of alcoholism, start individual therapy sessions with a licensed counselor or therapist, and participate in group therapy sessions. They may also have some behavioral and family therapy sessions. With the various therapies provided, the person will learn to deal with stress and other triggers, change the behaviors that make them want to drink, build a strong support system, and set and reach goals.

More About Medication-Assisted Treatment For Alcoholism

Medication-assisted treatment may also be used to help treat alcoholism. While there is no cure for alcoholism, including no medications to cure the disease, some medications are available to assist with treatment. 

Disulfiram (Antabuse) is a medication often used to make a person nauseous or even vomit if they drink while taking the medication. Acamprosate (Campral) is a medication that is sometimes used to help with alcohol cravings. Naltrexone (Revia) is a medication that blocks the high a person gets from drinking. Topiramate (Topamax) and Gabapentin (Neurontin) have both been shown to reduce alcohol consumption in those with alcoholism. Other medications not listed have also been used and are effective for treating someone with alcohol use disorder.

How Effective Is Medication-Assisted Treatment For Alcoholism?

Is Medication-assisted treatment effective for alcoholism? We know that addiction and alcoholism have been shown to go hand-in-hand with those who suffer from mental health disorders. The National Institutes of Health “Medication-assisted treatment for alcohol-dependent adults with serious mental illness and criminal justice involvement: effects on treatment utilization and outcomes” states:

MAT was associated with significant improvements in clinical outcomes in the 12 months following initiation versus the non-MAT comparison group, including larger reductions in mental health hospitalization and emergency department visits, and larger improvements in psychotropic medication adherence. No benefits of MAT were found for most criminal justice outcomes, except for significant reductions in felony convictions among adults with bipolar disorder. MAT is under-used for treating alcohol dependence, especially among adults with serious mental illness. These results suggest MAT can have important benefits for clinical outcomes in this population. More research is needed to improve its use for this population and to address barriers to its use. (NIH)

Medication-assisted treatment has been very effective for treating alcoholism both with and without a mental illness. This is as long as it is used in combination with therapy. Medication-assisted treatment alone is not effective unless combined with other treatments, including behavioral, individual, and group therapy.

Start Recovery From Alcohol Misuse at Evoke Wellness MA

Evoke Wellness MA does offer medication-assisted treatment programs to help those suffering from alcoholism. In addition, we offer evidence-based alcohol treatment to cater to the individual needs of each patient. Our solution-focused treatment provides men, women, and families integrated and comprehensive care geared towards leading you on the road to long-lasting recovery. If you are having issues with alcohol or any other substance, let us help you. Our specialists and professionals are highly qualified and supportive and will help you start your recovery journey today.

Ready to Rebuild Your Life?

Our caring treatment team knows that it’s not always easy to ask for help. At Evoke Wellness Massachusetts, many of our staff are in recovery themselves and we undertand what you’re going through. Reach out today and we will guide you to lasting sobriety.

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