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[Irish Medical Times] , Pinjon, Emmanuelle Use of prescribed drugs to treat alcohol addiction. (02 Dec 2010)

URL: http://www.imt.ie/mims/2010/12/18344.html

Alcohol-dependent patients might require medically prescribed drugs to help them in the initial stages of treatment or/and to prevent relapses.

The main types of drug used in the treatment of alcohol addiction are:

Detoxification:
• Chlordiazepoxide: Chlordiazepoxide is indicated for the management of alcohol withdrawal. It is a benzodiazepine used for the short-term (2-4 weeks) symptomatic treatment of severe and disabling anxiety, which is a common symptom during the withdrawal period. It is contraindicated in case of myasthenia gravis, severe respiratory insufficiency, sleep apnoea and severe hepatic insufficiency.
• Other benzodiazepines such as alprazolam are also indicated for anxiety, but like other benzodiazepines only when the disorder is severe, disabling or subjecting the individual to extreme distress.

Detoxification from alcohol dependence using another sedative such as benzodiazepines follows the same principle as detoxification from nicotine dependence using nicotine replacement or from opioid dependence using methadone or buprenorphine. However, in the treatment of patients dependent on alcohol or other sedatives, appropriate detoxification is particularly critical because the sedative withdrawal syndrome is potentially life-threatening.

Preventing relapse (see also Table 1 on IMT website)
• Acamprosate...
• Disulfiram...
• Naltrexone...

 

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