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Are There Any Medications for Alcoholism?


Updated February 14, 2014

Question: Are There Any Medications for Alcoholism?
Answer: Yes. Two different types of medications are commonly used to treat alcoholism. The first are tranquilizers called benzodiazepines (e.g., Valium, Librium), which are used only during the first few days of treatment to help patients safely withdraw from alcohol.

A second type of medication is used to help people remain sober. A recently approved medicine for this purpose is naltrexone (ReVia). When used together with counseling, this medication lessens the craving for alcohol in many people and helps prevent a return to heavy drinking.

Another older medication is disulfiram (Antabuse), which discourages drinking by causing nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant physical reactions when alcohol is used. (See also Alcohol Alert No. 33: Neuroscience Research and Medications Development.

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