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Alcoholism is a serious and sometimes deadly condition in which the body requires alcohol to maintain its current level of function. Severe alcoholics not only need a good quality treatment program, but they may also need medical intervention to safely detox and remain alcohol-free. Fortunately there are several drugs available to assist recovering alcoholics.
Drugs in the benzodiazepine family are tranquilizers, and include Valium, Ativan, and Librium. These types of drugs may be used during the detoxification process to control potentially unsafe withdrawal symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate.
Used to keep recovering alcoholics sober, Antabuse is taken daily and causes unpleasant sensations such as nausea and vomiting if the person consumes alcohol.
Naltrexone works in the brain to block the effects of alcohol, thereby reducing cravings and the urge to drink. If drinking doesn't "do anything", then the individual likely will not have the desire to drink.
Acamprosate works to alleviate less serious symptoms of withdrawal, including physical discomfort and anxiety, making it easier to avoid alcohol.
While there is no "miracle drug" that can treat alcoholism all on its own, medical intervention can be an important component of a comprehensive alcohol treatment and can increase the effectiveness of treatment.
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