Alcohol use disorder (AUD) affects millions of people worldwide, with devastating consequences for individuals and society. While many treatment options are available, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for alcohol use has emerged as a promising approach.
This blog post will provide an overview of the common medications used in MAT for alcohol use disorder. By the end of this article, you will better understand the pharmacological interventions available to treat AUD and their potential benefits. So, read on.
Overview of the Most Commonly Used Medications in MAT
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a practical and evidence-based approach to treating substance use disorders. MAT’s most commonly used medications for alcohol use disorder (AUD) are acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone.
When used with counseling and support, these medications can significantly increase the chances of successful recovery from AUD. It is essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine which medication, if any, is right for you.
How Each Medication Works to Treat Alcohol Use Disorder
These medications can increase the chances of successful recovery from AUD by 50% or more compared to those without treatment.
How Acamprosate Works to Treat AUD
Acamprosate (Campral) is a medication that targets the neurobiological mechanisms of alcohol addiction, effectively reducing cravings and preventing relapse. Acamprosate is a tablet or capsule to take orally with water once daily (usually at bedtime) for up to nine months.
How Disulfiram Works to Treat AUD
Disulfiram targets the neurobiological mechanisms of alcohol addiction and can reduce cravings for alcohol or prevent relapse after abstinence. A significant benefit of disulfiram is its long half-life: it stays in your system for up to three days after taking it, meaning you don’t have to take it every day (although some people do).
How Naltrexone Works to Treat AUD
Naltrexone reduces the rewarding effects of drinking and targets the neurobiological mechanisms of alcohol addiction. Naltrexone can reduce cravings and prevent relapse in people with AUDs, but it doesn’t work for everyone.
If you are struggling with alcohol use disorder, MAT is a practical and evidence-based approach to treating substance use disorders. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine which medication(s) may be proper for you.
The Benefits and Risks of Each Medication
Selecting the proper medication for MAT can be a complex process, as each has its benefits and risks. Let’s now explore the benefits and risks of each medication used in MAT for alcohol use and discuss the importance of individual factors in medication selection.
Benefits of Each Medication
These most common medications for AUD have shown to reduce the risk of relapse and help individuals maintain sobriety. It can also help reduce the amount of alcohol consumed, particularly in social situations, and may also help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression and promote long-term sobriety.
Risks and Side Effects of Each Medication
Acamprosate is generally well-tolerated but can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain. It may also interact with certain medications, so discussing other medications with a healthcare provider is essential.
Disulfiram can cause various side effects, including headache, dizziness, and fatigue. More severe side effects can include liver damage, heart problems, and allergic reactions.
Naltrexone is generally safe and well-tolerated but can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea and constipation. It can also cause liver damage in rare cases, particularly in individuals with underlying liver disease.
When selecting a medication for MAT for alcohol use, it is crucial to consider individual factors such as the severity of the alcohol use disorder, co-occurring mental health conditions, and any other medications being taken.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Medication for MAT
When it comes to treating alcohol use disorder with medication-assisted treatment (MAT), there are various factors to consider when selecting the appropriate medication for each patient. These factors include co-occurring mental health disorders, medical history and medication interactions, patient preferences, cost, and insurance coverage.
Co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, can impact the choice of medication for MAT. For example, if a patient has a history of depression, a medication that may worsen depressive symptoms should be avoided.
Medical history is also an important consideration. Certain medications may interact with a patient’s other medications or may not be recommended for patients with specific medical conditions. Reviewing a patient’s medical history and current medications is essential to ensure the selected MAT medication is safe and effective.
Patient preferences should also be taken into account. Some patients may prefer a medication that is taken orally, while others may prefer an injectable form. Additionally, some patients may prefer a medication with a shorter duration of action, while others may prefer a longer-acting medication.
Cost and insurance coverage are also critical factors when selecting a medication for MAT. Some medications may be more expensive, and insurance coverage may vary depending on the medication and the patient’s insurance provider.
The choice of medication for MAT for alcohol use should be made individually, considering the patient’s unique factors and circumstances. By considering these factors, healthcare providers can select the most appropriate medication for each patient to support their recovery journey.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for alcohol use disorder (AUD) has shown promising results in helping individuals recover from AUD. Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most commonly used medications in MAT for AUD, each targeting the neurobiological mechanisms of addiction in different ways.
However, selecting the proper medication for MAT is a complex process that requires careful consideration of individual factors such as medical history, co-occurring mental health disorders, patient preferences, cost, and insurance coverage. It is crucial to consult a healthcare provider to determine which medication suits each individual.
At Confidant Health, we understand that AUD is a complex condition that requires a comprehensive and individualized approach to treatment. Our team of healthcare professionals can work with individuals to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets their unique needs and goals.