AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
Alcohol & Health
Treatment
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?

Medication to Stop Drinking

Can I Take Medications to Stop Drinking Alcohol?

There are various medicines available to help people stop drinking. 

However, there are currently only three medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Three Best Medications to Help You Stop Drinking

Here is an overview of the three FDA-approved medications for treating AUD:

1. Disulfiram (Antabuse)

Disulfiram, also known as Antabuse, was the first medication approved to treat alcohol dependence. 

The medicine works by causing an intense adverse reaction when someone drinks alcohol. Most people taking Antabuse will vomit if they consume any amount of alcohol.

However, Antabuse does not reduce a person’s craving for alcohol. It also does not treat any alcohol-related withdrawal symptoms.

Initially, disulfiram was given to patients in large doses to make them extremely sick if they drank alcohol. However, some patients experienced severe reactions, and deaths were reported. Antabuse was subsequently prescribed in smaller quantities to treat alcoholism.

man leading group therapy
ALCOHOL REHAB HELP

Looking for a Place to Start?

An addiction specialist can help answer your questions and guide you through the intake process.
Learn More

2. Naltrexone (ReVia)

Naltrexone is a medication used to treat alcohol cravings. It's sold under the brand names ReVia and Depade. An extended-release monthly injection form of the medication is marketed under the trade name Vivitrol.

The medicine works by reducing the effects a person experiences when consuming alcohol or taking opioid drugs.

Naltrexone was first produced in 1963 to treat addiction to opioids. In 1984, it was approved by the FDA to treat heroin, morphine, and oxycodone addiction.

In the 1980s, animal studies showed that naltrexone also reduced alcohol consumption. Human clinical trials were performed in the late 80s and early 90s. These trials showed that naltrexone could decrease alcohol cravings and relapse risk when combined with psychosocial therapy.

The FDA approved naltrexone to treat AUD in 1994. DuPont renamed the medication ReVia.

3. Acamprosate (Campral)

Acamprosate is a medication sold under the brand name Campral. It is the most recent medicine approved for AUD treatment in the United States. The drug works by reducing the physical discomfort and emotional distress people experience when they stop drinking.

Acamprosate was developed in France in 1982. It was assessed and tested for 7 years and approved by the French government to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 1988.

Acamprosate was first sold under the brand name Aotal®. It was widely used throughout Europe for 20 years and approved for use in the U.S. in 2004.

Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcoholism 

There are various benefits of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for alcoholism.

Medications like ReVia and Campral can help resist the urge to drink by making alcohol less appealing.

Medications for AUD give people an incentive to remain sober by making the experience of drinking alcohol extremely undesirable. Successful results have been seen in those with high rates of medication compliance.

Anti-anxiety medications can also help recovering alcoholics deal with fear and anxiety. 

Do These Medications Have Any Risks? 

Medications for treating alcoholism come with some risks and side effects:

  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Weakness or fainting
  • Eye pain or any change in vision 
  • Mood or mental changes
  • Unusual thoughts or behavior
  • Numbness, tingling, pain, or weakness in hands or feet
  • Darkening of urine 
  • Light, gray-colored stools
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Yellow eyes or skin 

Less severe side effects, such as headache and fatigue, often go away during treatment as the body becomes used to the medication.

How Can I Get Prescribed Medications to Stop Drinking?

Detox is the first stage in treating alcoholism. During detox, alcohol is completely flushed from the body.

Withdrawal symptoms typically subside within one to two weeks after starting detox. However, it could take longer depending on the severity of a patient’s alcohol dependence.

After detox, people are able to focus on other areas of the recovery process. This can include therapies and counseling.

When alcohol detox is treated in a licensed inpatient treatment center, medications are often prescribed to reduce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The medicines help reduce the risk of severe complications during the detoxification process.

Do OTC Medications Help Alcohol Use Disorder?

The FDA does not recommend or approve any OTC products for the treatment of AUD. However, kudzu extract and l-glutamine have been examined.  

Depending on the severity of alcohol addiction, one should consider alcohol withdrawal under medical supervision. The side effects of detoxification, such as seizures, can be dangerous and life-threatening.

Man meditating at home
ALCOHOL REHAB HELP

Thinking about Getting Help?

Addiction specialists are available 24/7 to answer questions about costs, insurance, and payment options.
Learn More

Kudzu Extract

Kudzu extract is a herbal remedy that may help minimize alcohol cravings and reduce heavy drinking episodes. Kudzu extract originates from the root of a Japanese plant. 

Insurance Can Help Pay for Addiction Treatment

Call now to speak with a specialist about your insurance benefits.
Call Now (855) 772-9047

L-Glutamine

L-glutamine is an amino acid that the body naturally creates. Significant amounts of alcohol can affect how l-glutamine is synthesized and absorbed in the body. 

Researchers are exploring the supplementation of l-glutamine as a way to:

  • Help regulate the body’s chemistry
  • Manage alcohol cravings
  • Reduce the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal
  • Improve moods

Can I Detox From Alcohol Without Medications?

Many people consider detoxing from alcohol without medication at home. They may believe an at-home detox makes detoxification easier to deal with.

There's usually no other place more comfortable, controllable, and safe-feeling than a person's home. But detoxing at home without medication can be dangerous. This is especially true for those who do not understand the risks that come with alcohol withdrawal.

While detoxing at home without medication is possible, treatment programs at a professional rehab facility are highly recommended.

Begin your journey towards lasting recovery
Call us (855) 772-9047
Updated on March 26, 2022
8 sources cited
  1. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practice. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2009. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 49.).
  2. O'Malley, Stephanie S, and Patrick G O'Connor. “Medications for unhealthy alcohol use: across the spectrum.” Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism vol. 33,4 : 300-12.
  3. Disulfiram (Oral Route). Mayo Clinic, February 2020.
  4. Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH).
  5. Alcohol withdrawal, MedlinePlus, October 2019.
  6. Penetar, David M et al. “A single dose of kudzu extract reduces alcohol consumption in a binge drinking paradigm.” Drug and alcohol dependence vol. 153 : 194-200.
  7. MAT Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). August 2020, 
  8. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practice. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2009. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 49.) Chapter 2—Acamprosate.

Find your treatment that works for you!

Call Now (855) 772-9047
AlcoholRehabHelp Logo
All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.

This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:Verify here.

© 2022 by Treatment Pathway LLC. All rights reserved.
Back to top icon
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram