Medications Used For Alcoholism And Alcoholism Withdrawal

Knoxville, TN (PressExposure) August 03, 2009 -- Alcoholism is an addiction considered by many professionals as one of the hardest to cure. It causes the majority of psychoactive substance-related withdrawal syndrome fatalities. However, its tendency to cause withdrawal syndromes and fatalities is not the only problem. What makes it even more difficult to address is that the substance that causes it - alcoholic drink - is readily accessible to a wide range of age. Even though not everyone becomes easily addicted to alcohol, the problem of alcoholism stems from this widespread patronage of alcoholic drinks. This is the reason why there are several treatments currently used today to cure alcoholism and its withdrawal syndromes.

Medications used for alcoholism withdrawal and the treatment of the addiction itself are different. Some may say that medications used for alcoholism withdrawal may also cause addiction as well as death whereas medications used to address the addiction or dependence to it could lead patients to much discomfort. These are some of the reasons why alcoholism is one of the hardest addictions to treat.

Alcoholism withdrawal medications

Treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome can be managed with various pharmaceutical medications including barbiturates, benzodiazepines and clonidine. Barbiturates as an adult and adolescent alcohol treatment was considered to be the best option when it comes to alcoholism withdrawal. However, because of its potency to cause overdose to patients, barbiturates is now largely replaced by benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly used drug for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal and are safe and effective in suppressing alcohol withdrawal signs. Chlordiazepoxide and diazepam are the benzodiazepines most commonly used in alcohol detoxification.

Benzodiazepines as an adult and adolescent alcohol treatment can be life saving, particularly if delerium tremens appears during alcohol withdrawal. Effective and successful as it may be, benzodiazepines is also known to cause several side effects. One of the most important guideline that therapists use when applying benzodiazepines is the limit or its short-term use. Long-term use is not recommended because it can lead to adverse psychological and physical effects, and because benzodiazepines are prone to cause tolerance, physical dependence, and, upon cessation of use, a withdrawal syndrome. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines generally leads to improved physical and mental health.

Clonidine as an adult and adolescent alcohol treatment, on the other hand, has demonstrated superior clinical effects in the suppression of alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a head to head comparison study with the benzodiazepine drug chlordiazepoxide.

Alcohol addiction medications

Although medications are successful in treating alcoholism, compliance is one of the many factors that could cause its failure. This is because patients under medication would usually experience adverse and discomforting effects, especially when alcohol is taken. Drugs like naltrexone, disulfiram, acamprosate and topiramate are intended to reduce the desire to drink, either by directly reducing cravings as with acamprosate and topiramate, or by producing unpleasant effects when alcohol is consumed, as with disulfiram. These drugs can be effective if treatment is maintained, but compliance can be an issue as alcoholic patients often forget to take their medication, or discontinue use because of excessive side effects.

Additional drugs acting on glutamate neurotransmission such as modafinil, lamotrigine, gabapentin and memantine have also been proposed for use in treating addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

About Donna Sparks

Donna Sparks is a Professor and a Consultant Physician. Other than her clinical and local teaching commitments, she also continues to enjoy the privileges of research, writing and lecturing.

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Press Release Submitted On: August 03, 2009 at 12:27 am
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