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Medications for Alcoholism

Only Three Drugs Approved for Alcohol Dependence


Updated May 22, 2014

Young man sitting at bar, side view
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There are currently only three medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration for the treatment of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence.

None of these medications are prescribed to people who are still drinking alcohol. They are only prescribed to those who have already stopped drinking and are trying to maintain alcohol abstinence.

There are no medications on the market that are prescribed for people who are still drinking alcohol that will cause them to stop drinking.


Antabuse, or disulfiram as it is also known, was the first medicine approved for the treatment of alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. It works by causing a severe adverse reaction when someone taking the medication consumes alcohol.


Naltrexone is sold under the brand names Revia and Depade. An extended-release form of naltrexone is marketed under the trade name Vivitrol. It works by blocking in the brain the "high" that people experience when they drink alcohol or take opioids like heroin and cocaine.


Campral, the brand name for acamprosate, is the most recent medication approved for the treatment of alcohol dependence or alcoholism in the United States. It works by reducing the physical distress and emotional discomfort people usually experience when they quit drinking.

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