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Is There Medication That Will Reduce Alcohol Craving?

Cravings Cause Many to Relapse


Updated May 22, 2014

Is There Medication That Will Reduce Alcohol Craving?
Many drinkers who have become alcohol dependent then try to quit experience not only withdrawal symptoms but also report having cravings for alcohol. This craving for alcohol is one of the reasons that a large majority of those who try to quit drinking fail to do so the first time they try.

As Mark describes in a post to our Alcoholism / Substance Abuse Forum, the cravings seem to increase as the days go by and become overwhelming without help.

Mark's Story

My withdrawal symptoms have all but subsided except for the occasional "more nuisance than painful" headaches, but exactly how bad are cravings supposed to be? Because I've been having severe cravings for the last couple of weeks.

I finally made arrangements for my friend to come to my house tomorrow and drag me to a meeting, kicking and screaming notwithstanding. Are there any forms of medications to help reduce the cravings?

It's Getting Harder

I can't get it out of my head. I'm even having dreams about drinking, which leave me with massive headaches when I wake up. I almost said, "to hell with it," last night and walked around the corner to get a six pack, but I decided to read another 30 or 40 pages of my Big Book instead.

I'm trying not to think of it as "fighting" the temptations off, rather accepting them as a face of the recovery process, but it still seems like it's getting harder as the days go by. Are there any medications that help with the cravings?

-- Mark

Medications for Cravings

Currently only three medications are approved by the FDA for the treatment of alcoholism. Antabuse works by causing a severe adverse reaction when someone taking the medication consumes alcohol. Naltrexone, marketed as Revia, works by blocking in the brain the "high" that people experience when they drink alcohol. By blocking the pleasure the drinker receives from alcohol, naltrexone eventually reduces cravings.

Acamprosate, marketed under the brand name Campral, is the only medication available in the U.S. that claims to reduce alcohol craving. It also reduces the physical distress and emotional discomfort people usually experience when they quit drinking.

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