For some people who struggle with an alcohol addiction, a prescribed medication for alcoholism is enough to get them on the path to recovery. For others, detox centers are easier, safer, and more effective in the long run. There is no clear winner in the medication vs. detox center debate, but this guide will help you figure out which option best suits your needs.
Medications That Treat Alcoholism
There are several approved medications that help treat alcohol dependence and abuse. However, no medication is meant to be used by patients who are still consuming alcohol. You can only receive a prescription if you are presently sober and intend on maintaining your abstinence from alcohol. If you are unable to abstain from alcohol on your own, a rehabilitation center where you can detox under supervision will likely be necessary before receiving a prescription for alcohol medication. Keep in mind that every medication comes with possible side effects, so read the following reviews of each drug thoroughly. If your doctor thinks a particular medication is too risky for you, you will have to try a different option.
Disulfiram, also known as Antabuse and Antabus in some countries, was the very first drug approved for alcoholism. Prior to taking this medication, you must abstain from alcohol for a minimum of 12 hours. Patients who are using disulfiram suffer from severe physical reactions when they consume alcohol. These reactions are very uncomfortable and may include anything from nausea and vomiting to mental confusion and difficulty breathing. Reactions typically begin shortly after consuming alcohol and last for at least one hour. While disulfiram is helpful for treating alcoholism as opposed to a cure, this detox medication does discourage drinking by creating a negative association. Keep in mind that disulfiram can cause abnormal liver function in rare cases, which is especially hazardous in patients whose alcoholism has already impaired their liver function.
Naltrexone, a detox medication that is sometimes sold as Depade, Revia, or Vivitrol, does not cause miserable side effects like disulfiram. Instead, this drug works by blocking your ability to experience the addictive feelings caused by consuming alcohol or opiate drugs. Like disulfiram, naltrexone is meant to be taken after you have already abstained from alcohol for a period of time. Even though some patients prefer naltrexone over disulfiram because disulfiram is so uncomfortable, the discomfort is what can make medication so useful. This drug is generally not as effective as a drinking deterrent. However, it is a useful if your primary reason for drinking is to experience the narcotic effect associated with consuming large amounts of alcohol.
Acamprosate is a fairly new medication for curing alcoholism. Unlike naltrexone and disulfiram, this detox medication doesn’t help you give up alcohol by punishing you for drinking or keeping you from experiencing the enjoyable effects of drunkenness. Instead, acamprosate acts as a true detox medication by reducing the discomfort associated with the detoxification process. While this is certainly a positive aspect, some patients prefer disulfiram and naltrexone because those medications make it less enjoyable to drink while acamprosate simply makes it less uncomfortable to detox. However, if your primary reason for drinking is to avoid the withdrawal effects, this detox medication might make a significant difference on your path to recovery.
Of course, detox centers also prescribe a variety of medications that make the detoxification process easier to withstand. If you are having trouble with your addiction to alcohol because of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with transitioning to a sober lifestyle, detox centers might be more useful than any prescribed medication. Even with the assistance of medication like acamprosate, detoxification is often so distressing and uncomfortable that many patients drink again just to relieve their symptoms. Fortunately, detox centers can prescribe special medications that you couldn’t use at home due to a lack of medical supervision. If a medication doesn’t work, there are other ways the staff members at detox centers can help keep you comfortable. Choosing between a prescribed medication vs. detox center medications is easier when you keep in mind that the prescriptions at detox centers are often more powerful.
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Why a Detox Center Might Not Suit Your Needs
In almost all cases, detox centers give you the best chance to recover from alcohol addiction. However, staying at a detox center is not a practical option for everybody. If you have children, it may be difficult to leave your house for an extended period of time. Depending on your place of work and your relationships with your supervisors, you might have a hard time convincing them to let you go to a detox center even if you have a note from your doctor. Fortunately, the most severe withdrawal symptoms typically subside within a few days, so if you are unable to stay at a detox center until you have fully recovered, it may be possible to stay for the first part of your recovery process and use a prescribed medication for alcoholism when you return to your home.
Why Detox Centers Work
Detox centers are so effective because they provide medication and a comfortable atmosphere for patients who are experiencing uncomfortable side effects from withdrawal. The staff members at detox centers are used to treating the withdrawal symptoms, and they will do everything they can to make sure your symptoms are minimized using medication. However, the most beneficial part of a quality detox center is the fact that you will go home sober with no chance of relapsing during the detoxification process, a real possibility when you rely on a detox medication at home.
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