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Is Medically Assisted Detox an Option for Alcohol Detox and Withdrawal?

Alcohol abuse has been around ever since man first learned how to make alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment admission rates for alcohol abuse far outpace admissions for other addictive substances with over 41 percent of all admissions being alcohol-related.

Not surprisingly, a number of treatment approaches have been developed to help combat alcoholism. Medically assisted detox is one of them.

Not unlike its use in treating opiate addiction, medically assisted detox offers chronic drinkers a way to break their addiction without having to deal with persistent cravings and withdrawal effects. Depending on a person’s condition and circumstances, various types of medications can be used for medically assisted detox.

While medically assisted detox may not be right for everyone, people who’ve made multiple attempts to stop drinking and failed may well benefit from this treatment approach.

Medically Assisted Detox

medical help for detox

Seeking medical help is recommended during an alcohol detox.

Chronic alcohol abuse all but destroys essential brain and body functions. Someone who’s been drinking for a long time likely experiences withdrawal effects on a regular basis because of the damage caused by drinking.

The withdrawal effects experienced while drinking pale in comparison to the degree of withdrawal a person experiences in detox. For these reasons, medication-based treatment approaches have become an effective way to help chronic drinkers make it through the detox and withdrawal stage.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, medically assisted detox combines medications with counseling and behavioral therapies as a treatment for alcohol, as well as opiate addictions. In the process, a person can gain considerable relief from persistent alcohol cravings and withdrawal effects.

Types of Medications Used

Medications used in alcohol detox can vary in terms of the type of effect any one medication causes. The different medications used work to treat different stages or severities of alcoholism.

According to the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services, types of medications used include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Vivitrol
  • Acamprosate Calcium
  • Disulfiram

Naltrexone tablets block the effects of alcohol, so someone who does take a drink won’t feel the usual effects from alcohol. Vivitrol is naltrexone in injection form. Vivitrol produces a slow-acting effect so a person only needs to get an injection once every 30 days.

Acamprosate Calcium tablets work by balancing chemical levels in the brain, which in turn reduces cravings for alcohol. Disulfiram, also known as Antabuse blocks alcohol metabolism. This process brings on uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as nausea, headache and vomiting, thereby eliminating a person’s desire to have another drink.

Benefits of Medically Assisted Detox Treatment

Medically assisted detox has become a proven treatment approach for helping recovering alcoholics make it through the detox stage. Benefits to be had from combining medication treatments with ongoing counseling and behavioral therapy include:

  • Improved health
  • Motivation to stay in recovery
  • Improved functional capacity
  • Long-term abstinence from alcohol

The ongoing effects from the medication make it easier for a person to become engaged in the treatment process. In turn, ongoing counseling and behavioral therapy treatment further reinforces one’s motivation to live a clean and sober lifestyle.

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