For those trying to break the alcohol consumption habit, prescription medications can help.
In 2006, researchers in Germany published a study in which it was found that alcohol-repellent or alcohol-free drugs such as Antabuse (disulfiram) and Temposil (calcium carbimide) have an abstinence rate of 50 percent: half of the people were able to quit alcohol consumption.
Although antabuse was considered the most common drug treatment for alcohol consumption until the late 20th century, it is now often replaced or accompanied by newer drugs, most notably the combination of Revia or Vivitrol (naltrexone) and Campral (acamprosate) directly with it of brain chemistry interact.
The most common anti-alcohol drugs used today
Revia and Vivitrol can help reduce heavy drinking and alcohol cravings, while Campral can be a little more helpful in promoting abstinence.
Revia and Vivitrol work in the brain to reduce the opiate effects for feeling good. As a result, the drugs have been shown to decrease the amount and frequency of drinking. It doesn’t seem to change the percentage of people who drink. It seems to decrease alcohol cravings.
The drug Campral may work better at eliminating drinking altogether and reducing alcohol withdrawal symptoms by stabilizing the chemical balance in the brain. Studies show that Campral works best when combined with counseling and can help reduce drinking and help a person stop completely.
Detoxing and avoiding alcohol prior to treatment seem to increase the effects of anti-drink drugs and make treatment more effective.
More about the German study 2006
The nine-year study on Antabuse and Temposil was led by Hannelore Ehrenreich, Head of Clinical Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine in Germany. The study focused on the psychological effects of long-term treatment rather than the effects of the drug. Both drugs are used more abroad than in the United States.
Both drugs can have negative effects on the body when alcohol is introduced. They can cause you to experience a severe “hangover” immediately after consuming alcohol, with severe symptoms such as persistent vomiting, pounding headaches, shortness of breath and racing heartbeat, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
“We found an abstinence rate of more than 50 percent in the patients examined,” said Ehrenreich. “Long-term use of alcohol deterrents appeared to be well tolerated. The rates of abstinence were better in those who took alcohol deterrents for more than 20 months than in those who stopped taking it after 13-20 months.”
Psychological role in abstinence
The German researchers said that the psychological role anti-alcohol drugs might play in relapse prevention supports their theory that prolonged abstinence achieved with the drugs leads to the habit of abstinence.
Why anti-alcohol drugs work
The anti-alcohol drugs clearly prevent alcohol consumption. The German researchers compared the anti-alcohol drugs with speed cameras.
“We know that inactive cameras are also a deterrent, but only because the drivers cannot know that they are inactive unless they put them to the test. In both contexts, people are reluctant to conduct the experiment,” said Ehrenreich.
Long term solution
Severe alcoholism is a chronic and recurrent condition. The researchers suggest that long-term treatment, followed by lifelong follow-up sessions and participation in support groups, really leads to recovery.