Medication for Alcoholics and What Most Doctors Don’t Know

There was a nice article in the health section of the New York Times on 5/13/2014. I’ve linked to it here.

The gist of it is that there are medications, naltrexone and acamprosate, that can help reduce cravings for alcohol and increase abstinence rates.

Very few doctors are aware of these types of medications and even fewer are trained on them. If you or someone you love has an alcohol problem, they should see a professional, licensed substance abuse counselor (in NJ, the license is a LCADC: to find a provider in your state, click here). Additionally, they should get a physical exam and see an ASAM doctor. They understand addiction and will prescribe the best medication, if applicable (and more importantly, are less likely to mis-diagnose and falsely medicate some other perceived psychological issue).

Medications should not be taken in a vacuum. They should accompany some type of therapy (individual or group), regularly monitoring, and patients should be encouraged to check out AA meetings and/or Smart Recovery.

There are a number of people in AA who disapprove of medication assistance for alcoholics (or addicts). Those people are wrong and are acting, at best, irresponsibly and at worst, criminally, by telling someone not to take medication if they want to be sober. The only opinion AA has on this is that outside professional help is often needed and that members should not act as doctors.