Quitting alcohol is hard, but there are many resources to support you during the toughest times. Most people aren’t aware of the use of medication to control alcohol cravings and to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Cravings and withdrawal symptoms are some of the hardest things you’ll endure when quitting alcohol. Being constantly surrounded by the thing you’re trying to get away from is tough, and it makes cravings intense—but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 3 medications that help control alcohol cravings, reduce the desire to drink, or inhibit the pleasurable effects of drinking.
If you need extra support in your sober journey, along with therapy or support groups, these medications help you control cravings and succeed:
Your brain releases dopamine when you drink, making you want to come back for more—it’s like a reward for your brain. It craves dopamine—making you crave alcohol.1,2
Naltrexone helps you overcome alcohol addiction by inhibiting the pleasurable effects of imbibing. You’ll feel drunk if you drink while taking it, but the bliss or enjoyment won’t be there; the pleasure that usually comes from drinking disappears.
When you have AUD, something as simple as a smell can trigger cravings. Besides taking away the pleasure of drinking, naltrexone is an effective medication to control alcohol cravings. It comes in a pill form or as a monthly injection.
Side Effects of Naltrexone
Like most medications, naltrexone has side effects, which might go away with time, as your body adjusts to the medication. These are the most common side effects 3:
- Abdominal pain or stomach cramping
- Anxiety, nervousness, or restlessness
- Joint or muscle pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unusual tiredness or trouble sleeping
If you have any questions about the use of naltrexone and its side effects, consult a healthcare professional.
Long-term alcohol use causes a chemical imbalance in your brain—turning it into a reward system which leads to alcohol cravings. Acamprosate helps restore this balance.
Acamprosate activates a brain messenger named gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) that helps control stress and anxiety, making you feel more at peace and providing stability. It’s also an effective medication to control alcohol cravings.
Acamprosate is better taken a few days after you’ve stopped drinking. It comes in pill form and you must take two pills three times a day.4
Side Effects of Acamprosate
The side effects of this drug tend to be mild, and they usually disappear as your body adjusts to the medication. These are the most common side effects: 5
- Depression or sadness
- A lack of appetite
- Lack or loss of strength
- Loss of interest or pleasure
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
If you experience any of these side effects—talk to a medical professional who can help you prevent or cope with them.
3. Disulfiram (Antabuse)
Disulfiram works differently than other medications in that it changes the way your body breaks down alcohol. If you imbibe while taking this medication, you will feel sick, which will lead you to drink less.
The symptoms of drinking while taking disulfiram are nausea, vomit, headaches, and flushing—like a terrible hangover. Although the symptoms can be severe, and last up to two hours, it’s an effective drug to quit drinking, even if you still want to drink.6
The effects of the pill last up to two weeks, so if you decide to quit treatment and have a drink the next day, you’ll still feel sick.
Side Effects of Disulfiram
While the pill has side effects if you mix it with alcohol, it could also cause some other undesired side effects even if you don’t drink. The most common side effect is: 7
Other less common side effects that might occur:
- Eye pain or any change in vision
- Mood swings
- Feeling numbness, tingling, or weakness in your hands or feet
If you feel any side effects while taking disulfiram, consult your doctor.
These three are the only medications approved by the FDA to treat alcohol use disorder, but there are other options out there.
These are other drugs not yet approved by the FDA to treat AUD:
Gabapentin is a drug used to treat seizures, and as an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic. Sometimes doctors prescribe this drug “off label” to treat addiction. It might be helpful in reducing alcohol cravings and the desire to drink.8
Also used to treat seizures, topiramate is an appetite suppressant. Some studies suggest this medication is effective in reducing alcohol cravings, even if you’re still imbibing.9
There’s medication available to support your sober journey and make quitting alcohol easier. Medication is a great way to help you control alcohol cravings and beat the habit. It should always be used along with support groups or therapy. Always talk to a healthcare professional before taking any drugs.
If you want to quit alcohol but don’t want to take medication, there are natural ways to reduce cravings and withdrawal.
Sobrietea is a natural way to reduce cravings and withdrawal, cope with stress, and aid your health. Its organic ingredients are crafted to support your sober journey and make quitting alcohol easier.
Simply drink a cup of Sobrietea to experience all its benefits. It contains kudzu root, which is proven to be effective at reducing cravings, the desire to drink, and withdrawal symptoms.
If you’re looking for a natural way to quit alcohol, you found it. Order Sobrietea here to cut the cord with drinking once and for all.