Treatments for Alcohol Abuse

Psychotherapy and various therapeutic or self-help groups, including AA, are first-line treatment.

Medication can be helpful as a support, but does not work for all. Certain medications have been shown to effectively help people stop or reduce their drinking and avoid relapse. They either reduce the urge to drink alcohol or trigger adverse reactions if one consumes alcohol.


Naltrexone can help people reduce heavy drinking. It works on the opiate receptors and seems to reduce the positive feelings from drinking.


Acamprosate makes it easier to maintain abstinence. It is an anti-craving medication. However, it may only be effective in less severe cases of alcohol dependence, and here only in some.


Disulfiram blocks the breakdown (metabolism) of alcohol by the body, causing unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and flushing of the skin. Those unpleasant effects can help some people avoid drinking while taking disulfiram. However, if one cannot control one’s drinking behaviour, this medication can lead to potentially lethal reactions after consuming larger quantities of alcohol.

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