Underused Medicines Provide an Rx to Drinking Problems

Although we cherish drinking, we recognize that drinking can cause serious problems requiring professional help. Good news: underused medications can help you battle drinking problems, according to NPR.  

Unlike Antabuse, “a medication used for decades to treat alcoholics that makes them wretchedly ill if they drink,” both acamprosate and naltrexone address the chemistry of brain. These drugs, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the ‘90s, can be a breakthrough for many patients attempting to cut back on alcohol, which is a significant chunk of the population: “About 20 percent of men have an alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives, as do 8 percent of women.”

But why aren’t these medicines more commonplace? Most doctors simply don’t know about them. “It’s been quite a bit of a secret,” says Dr. Daniel Jones, an associate professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. “It doesn’t get advertised.”

However, drugs like acamprosate or naltrexone should not completely replace traditional methods like 12-step program and behavioral treatments, says Dr. Katharine Bradley, a senior investigator at the Group Health Research Institute. “Our hope with these medications is that as people become aware of them it will help destigmatize addiction, and move it further into the medical setting for patients who want that,” says Bradley. [NPR] [Photo: Flickr/e-Magine Art]

Tagged: alcoholism, Medicine, NPR