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alcohol craving
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alcohol craving

  Is there any medication that can decrease the craving for alcohol?
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Dear Mel,
Naltrexone (current brand name = Revia, formerly marketed as Trexan) is a medication which diminishes the urge to drink which many alcoholics experience when they attempt to stay sober.  Following detox, alcoholics who take this medication for a period of six-months are twice as successful at staying sober as those who take a placebo.
This medicine works by blocking the brain's opioid receptors.  Alcohol may release endorphins, so blocking the endorphin (opioid) receptors renders drinking less pleasurable.  The process of craving itself may involve endorphin release, so that blocking the ability of the endorphins to "do their thing" in the brain (their thing is to produce pleasure) may reduce the cravings.
Another medication, disulfiram (Antabuse), makes people who drink violently ill.  Some alcholics who take Antabuse find that it reduces their cravings, because they know that the drinking option has been eliminated.  There is more information about both of these medications on my Ask DrSteve web site, which is conveniently hyperlinked below.
Steve Adelman, M.D. (a.k.a. DrSteve)
This information is provided for general medical education purposes only. Please consult your physician for diagnostic and
treatment options pertaining to your specific medical condition.
keywords: alcoholism, naltrexone, disulfiram, craving
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