Non-addictive medications, when used in conjunction with psychosocial treatment, can increase the likelihood of a successful recovery.
Medications play an important but ancillary role in the Kolmac treatment program. Our goal is to reduce physical discomfort that distracts from doing the psychological work of recovery. At Kolmac, we use medications that have substantial evidence of effectiveness.
Medications can help prevent alcohol relapses
For alcohol, we use the following three medications:
Antabuse (disulfiram) has been used to treat alcohol problems since the 1950’s. This medication gives you an additional incentive not to drink because after it is in your system, drinking alcohol would cause an unpleasant reaction. An important part of successful treatment is separation from alcohol, which residential programs accomplish geographically. Antabuse accomplishes this same goal chemically.
When used as the sole treatment element, there is little evidence of effectiveness. When it is used, however, as a component in a comprehensive recovery plan, many patients who use it briefly or for an extended period of time find it highly useful and regard it as a sobriety saver.
Campral (acamprosate) has been used since 1989 in Europe where it has been found to reduce alcohol relapses and to have no significant side effects. It appears to work by reducing preoccupation with alcohol and reducing the power of triggers that would ordinarily set off thoughts of drinking. It is believed to reduce the activity of glutamate – an excitatory neurotransmitter that becomes overactive when alcoholic drinking stops.
Naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol) has been used for many years to block the action of opioid drugs. More recently it has been found to be useful in reducing alcoholic relapses. Naltrexone works by reducing both your cravings for alcohol as well as the pleasurable effect of alcohol if you do drink.
The Medical Mind Podcast
Hear the latest from our Founder and Chief Innovation Officer. Dr. Kolodner talks about Rethinking Withdrawal Management.