Detoxification with Benzodiazepines
- Detoxification (detox): Treatment may involve one or more medications. Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety drugs used to treat withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and poor sleep and to prevent seizures and delirium.
- These are the most frequently used medications during the detox phase, at which time they are usually tapered and then discontinued. They must be used with care, since they may be addictive.
- There are several medicines used to help people in recovery from alcoholism maintain abstinence and sobriety. One drug, Disulfiram may be used once the detox phase is complete and the person is abstinent. It interferes with alcohol metabolism so that drinking a small amount will cause nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, confusion, and breathing difficulty. This medication is most appropriate for alcoholics who are highly motivated to stop drinking, or whose medication use is supervised, because the drug does not effect the motivation to drink.
Another medicine, naltrexone, reduces the craving for alcohol. Naltrexone can be given even if the individual is still drinking; however, as with all medications used to treat alcoholism, it is recommended as part of a comprehensive program that teaches patients new coping skills. It is now available as a long-acting injection that can be given on a monthly basis.
Acamprosate is another medicine that has been FDA-approved to reduce alcohol craving.
Antidepressants may be used to control any underlying or resulting anxiety or depression, but because those symptoms may disappear with abstinence, the medications are usually not started until after detox is complete and there has been some period of abstinence.
Finally, research suggests that the anti-seizure medicines topiramate and gabapentin may be of value in reducing craving or anxiety during recovery from drinking, although neither of these drugs is FDA-approved for the treatment of alcoholism.
Nutrition and Diet for Alcoholism
- Poor nutrition goes with heavy drinking and alcoholism: Because an ounce of alcohol has more than 200 calories but no nutritional value, ingesting large amounts of alcohol tells the body that it doesn’t need more food.
- Alcoholics are often deficient in vitamins A, B complex, and C; folic acid; carnitine; magnesium, selenium, and zinc, as well as essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Restoring such nutrients – by prociding thiamine (vitamin B-1) and multivitamin – can aid recovery and are an important part of all detox programs
At-Home Remedies for Alcoholism
- Abstinence is the most crucial — and probably the most difficult — step to recovery from alcoholism. To learn to live without alcohol, you must:
- Avoid people and places that make drinking the norm, and find new, non-drinking friends.
- Join a self-help group.
- Enlist the help of family and friends.
- Replace your negative dependence on alcohol with positive dependencies such as a new hobby or volunteer work with church or civic groups.
- Start exercising. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that provide a “natural high.” Even a walk after dinner can be tranquilizing.
Conventional Treatment Summary
- Alcoholic accepts that the problem exists and agrees to stop drinking
- Detoxification (detox): Heavily relies on use of Benzodiazepines and other medications that may require inpatient stay and are highly addictive drugs
- Some Benzodiazepines used for detox are non FDA-approved for the treatment
- Recovery typically takes a broad-based approach, which may include education programs, group therapy, family involvement, and participation in self-help groups. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is the most well known of the self-help groups, but other approaches have also proved successful.