Alcohol Addiction Treatments

(Also Known As: Addiction Treatments, Alcoholism Treatments, Alcoholic Treatments, Substance Abuse Treatments, Alcohol Dependence Treatments)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What Kinds of Alcohol Addiction Treatments are Available?

There is a wide range of treatments for alcohol dependents depending on how you look at alcohol addiction, whether as a medical condition or a social choice. Most treatments concentrate on helping people to abstain alcohol intake then follow up with social support. Different treatments are presented as there are multiple viewpoints for this kind of condition. In order to cease alcohol use, detoxification and other therapeutic treatments ranging from psychotherapy to medications are utilized.

When treating for alcohol addiction, the effectiveness of a particular treatment may vary by individual due to a number of factors. Program completion rate is not enough to determine the effectiveness but we can estimate the success rate of those who go into the specific program and the rate of those who get worse.


There are a number of medications that can be prescribed to treat alcoholism, although it is not required to treat the condition, it can be a part of the treatment process.

  • Antabuse (disulfiram) prevents the elimination of acetaldehyde which is the cause of many hangover symptoms from alcohol use. When an alcoholic is taking this medication, there is severe discomfort when they ingest alcohol. However, if drinking still continues, it can cause harsh illness and even death to alcoholics.
  • Naltrexone is a competitive antagonist for opioid receptors, effectively blocking our ability to use endorphins and opiates. It also appears to act on glutamate neurotransmission. There are two forms of treatment of naltrexone: one is to reduce your craving for alcoholic drinks and the second one is called pharmacological extinction which combines naltrexone with normal drinking habits in order to reverse the endorphin conditioning that causes alcohol addiction.
  • Acamprosate which is known as Campral makes the chemical balance of the brain to become stable that would otherwise be disrupted by alcoholism. Usually, acamprosate can be used with other medication such as naltrexone which has seen a great result.
  • Sodium oxybate is the sodium salt of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB). It is used for both acute alcohol withdrawal and medium to long-term detoxification. This drug enhances GABA neurotransmission and reduces glutamate levels.
  • Baclofen is a perfect combination when doing detoxification and this has been shown in animal studies and in small human studies. This drug acts as a GABA B receptor agonist and this may be beneficial.


A sudden stop of drinking alcohol is called Detoxification or “detox” that can be combined with the substitution of drugs that have similar effects to offset the withdrawal symptoms. One of the commonly use drug for detox is the Benzodiazepines followed by barbiturates.

Detoxification can be executed in a variety of ways depending on the tolerance, history, and the degree of the user. The first thing to consider is the tolerance, which the benzodiazepine can be taken to counteract the symptoms. This is taken through a standard dose which is given every half hour until light sedation is achieved, and then it can be tapered off over 3-10 days. One way to perform detox with benzodiazepine is through understanding the history of alcohol use, so that the medication can be adjusted depending how an individual was affected by the withdrawal symptoms. While the third option is by not taking the benzodiazepine until the symptoms are seen. This last alternative is acceptable when the person is a mild alcohol user.

In addition, detox may or may not be required in a user. It depends on the person’s age, medical status, and history of alcohol intake. One example is a person who binge drinks then seeks treatment after his last use, which is a week later. In this situation, he may not need detoxification ahead of the treatment.


This treatment for alcoholism involves using opioid antagonists like naltrexone or nalmefene combined with normal drinking habits to reduce the craving for alcohol. This treatment is aimed at the endorphin-based neurological conditioning.


Once the individual has completed the treatment, it is advisable that he or she must take long-term B12 and folate in order to deal with the effects of chronic alcohol use on the liver. This nutritional therapy is not a treatment of alcoholism but it treats the difficulties that can arise after years of heavy alcohol use. Since many complications can develop from this addiction, a healthcare professional should also consider this when treating alcoholics and alcoholics should realize this damaging effect if drinking is continued.


Alcohol withdrawal, which often happens in adults and has an increasing rate for children and teenagers, occurs when someone abruptly stop drinking alcoholic beverages from their usual heavy drinking. The effect of heavy alcohol use reduces the production of GABA receptors which promotes central nervous system depression. And when alcohol is stopped abruptly, it will cause firing of the synapses to the nervous system which will result in withdrawal symptoms.

The more habituated the person is, the more he or she will experience crucial withdrawal symptoms. Such symptoms vary depending on how excessively the person drinks and it can be from mild-moderate psychological symptoms to mild-moderate physical symptoms and severe symptoms.

Symptoms like bad dreams, depression, rapid emotional changes, easy excitability, shakiness, anxiety and nervousness, rapid heart rate, tremor, clammy skin, tremors of hand, loss of appetite, pulsating headache, sweating of hands and face, insomnia, pallor, abnormal, and involuntary moments of eyes are examples of mild-moderate psychological and physical symptoms. However, it can be exacerbated to agitation, black outs, fever, delirium tremens and convulsions.

Obviously, when an alcoholic tries to stop drinking instantly, withdrawal symptoms may be damaging and would require alcohol withdrawal treatment at a detox facility or hospital.

Could You Have Alcohol Addiction?

Alcohol Addiction Topics

Related Conditions

Drug Addiction – Drug Use, Addiction, Substance Abuse, Withdrawal, Tolerance, Alcoholism, Escape, Drug Dependency
Gambling Addiction – Compulsiveness, Uncontrolled Gambling, Pathological Gambling, Withdrawal, Tolerance, Escape, Loss of Control
Sexual Addiction – Hypersexuality, Sexual Dependency, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder