Home Health Medications for Alcoholics: What You Need to Know

Medications for Alcoholics: What You Need to Know


Medications are considered the beginning of how you make the psychological change that needs to occur. Learn how medications for alcoholics work here.

“I can stop whenever I want.”

Have you ever said those words before or heard them from a loved one who has an alcohol use disorder (AUD)? 

The problem with this line of thinking is willpower isn’t enough to treat AUD. That’s because it’s a brain disease, which requires the right combination of treatments

For some, that means staying at a treatment center for a while. And for others, it could mean an outpatient program, seeing a counselor or therapist, and joining a group. It could also mean using medications for alcoholics. 

Can meds alone treat AUD? If yes, how come these drugs aren’t prescribed more by primary care doctors?

Let’s talk about this in detail as we discuss the different types of drugs for alcoholism. 

The 3 Drugs Approved by the FDA for AUD

The 3 main drugs, which have FDA approval for AUD are disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate. Here’s how each one works.


You might be familiar with this medication to stop drinking as it’s one of the first drugs approved by the FDA for AUD. Disulfiram or Antabuse works by changing the way your body metabolizes alcohol.

In layman’s terms, it means when you’re on disulfiram and you drink, you’ll feel sick. You’ll experience nausea, headaches, sweating, and other symptoms associated with a bad hangover


If disulfiram makes you feel ill when you drink, naltrexone will help curb your desire to drink. That’s because when you use this medication for alcoholism, you won’t experience any pleasure when you drink. 

Keep in mind though, that naltrexone in large doses may cause liver damage. There are also side effects such as nausea, insomnia, anxiety, vomiting, etc. reported by some patients. Should you experience any of these adverse reactions, make sure to consult your doctor ASAP.


Did you know withdrawal symptoms can last for months even after you’ve stopped drinking? 

This is where acamprosate can help. It works by restoring the balance of your brain’s neurotransmitters, specifically, GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid and glutamate.

But there is a downside. You have to take 2 to 3 pills thrice daily. Plus, it’s not going to work if you’re still in the early stages of detoxification from alcohol.

Other Medications for Alcoholics 

Aside from disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate, a person with AUD may be given medications for treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These include benzodiazepines and barbiturates.

It’s important to remember that drugs on their own aren’t enough to overcome alcohol addiction. Medications are best used in combination with other therapies including mutual-support groups, counseling, and so on.

To get more info about medication assisted therapy, contact treatment centers near you. Or read more articles online to know more about how meds can help you recover from AUD.

Do You Need Help or Know Someone Struggling with AUD?

Now that you know more about medications for alcoholics, don’t stop there. If you want to quit drinking or if you have a loved one with an alcohol problem, consider getting professional help.

For more information on AUD and other alcohol-related topics, don’t hesitate to browse our site.