Drugs for alcohol dependence

When you want to change your alcohol habits, there are various drugs that can make it easier. The drugs can make you feel bad about drinking, that the craving for alcohol is reduced or that the alcohol intoxication becomes less positive.

Many people who have an alcohol addiction get vitamin deficiency. Therefore, it is common to take medicines with vitamins.

When you have an alcohol addiction and want to change your alcohol habits, you can also combine drugs with other treatments. For example, it can be motivational conversation, cognitive behavioral therapy or so-called twelve-step treatment.

Drugs for alcohol dependence

The three most common types of drugs for alcohol dependence are

  • disulfiran, found in Antabus
  • acamprosat, which is available in Campral or Aotal
  • naltrexone, which is found in, for example, Naltrexone Vitaflo
  • nalmefen, which is located in Selincro.

Often you use one of the drugs, but they can also be combined.

The effects of the drugs vary. Disulfiram usually gives good effect, as long as the tablets are taken as prescribed. For acamprosate, naltrexone and nalmefene, the effects vary from no effect at all to very pronounced effect. If the effect is weak or fails with any drug, you may want to try one of the others.


Disulfiram makes it harder for the body to break down alcohol. If you take the medicine and drink alcohol at the same time you feel bad and in this way you force yourself not to drink. You can get headaches, palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting if you drink, even with small amounts of alcohol. Disulfiram can be dosed in different ways. You can take every day, or on occasional occasions.


Acamprosate affects certain substances in the brain so that the craving for alcohol decreases. In addition, withdrawal problems such as anxiety and irritation can be alleviated. The medicine is intended to support full sobriety, but can also help you drink less.

Naltrexone and nalmefene

Naltrexone and nalmefene affect the reward system of the brain. The medicine limits the exhilaration and positive experience that the alcohol can provide. The effect is that you do not want to drink as often and not as much if you drink.

These different drugs can act as a support when you want to gain control over your drinking, or stop drinking altogether. Often, only one of these drugs is used at a time, but they can also be combined.

The duration of treatment varies for these drugs. It is common for the treatment to last 3-6 months. An evaluation is then made.

B vitamins

In alcohol addiction, one-sided diets are common. Alcohol can also damage the digestive system, which can also cause vitamin deficiency.

The most common vitamin deficiency in alcohol dependence is deficiency of vitamin B1, thiamine. Thiamine is needed for nerves and muscles to function, but also for the body to process carbohydrates from food. Sometimes thiamine needs to be given as an acute injection to prevent serious brain damage. Other types of vitamin B, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6, are also important for the body.

In alcohol addiction, treatment with B vitamins is common, and also with other vitamins. The vitamin preparations used in alcohol dependence have no known side effects.

Medicines for vitamin deficiency can be

  • Neurobion, syringe
  • Beviplex forte
  • Oralovite.


Depression is common in alcohol dependence. Often, the depression has been caused by high alcohol consumption. When changing your drinking habits, it may be good to wait a few weeks with antidepressants. Maybe your reduced drinking will make you feel better anyway. If you need medication for depression, there are different options to choose from.


The most commonly used antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, SSRIs. More recently, SNRI drugs have also become commonplace.

SSRIs affect the well-being substance serotonin in the brain. In depression, a lack of serotonin is common, which the SSRIs can correct. In addition to serotonin, SNRIs also affect norepinephrine in the brain.

Antidepressants do not affect alcohol dependency itself. It also takes a while for the medicine to start working. To get the effect, you need to take medication daily for at least two weeks, sometimes even longer. If the medicine works well, you should usually use it for a long time, at least six months, sometimes even longer.

The antidepressants are not addictive or addictive. However, you may feel ill if you suddenly stop taking the medicine, especially if you have used a high dose. Therefore, you should gradually lower the medication for several weeks before you stop.

Examples of SSRIs that can be used in alcohol dependence are:

  • Cipralex
  • Cipramil
  • Citalopram
  • escitalopram
  • Fevarin
  • fluoxetine
  • Prozac
  • Paroxiflex
  • paroxetine
  • Premalex
  • Oralin
  • Paxil
  • sertraline
  • Sertrone
  • Zoloft.

Examples of SNRI are venlafaxine and duloxetine.


Medicines containing the active substance buspirone can be used in the treatment of anxiety and anxiety. The medicine does not calm down immediately, but you have to take it a long time. Usually you notice the effect after one to three weeks of treatment.

Side effects and risks

All medicines can produce unwanted effects. Some receive side effects from drug treatment, others do not. Sometimes the side effects decrease after a while. If you have troublesome side effects, you should contact your doctor. The dose may need to be changed or you may want to try another drug or maybe a completely different type of treatment.

Medication for sleep disorders in alcohol addiction

It is common for sleep to be negatively affected when you drink a lot of alcohol. Even during treatment for alcohol dependence, you may have sleep disorders. Sometimes you may need treatment with medication to help sleep. In the first instance, the doctor usually recommends propiomazine, for example Propavan, or melatonin.

Some medicines should be avoided as far as possible because they can create an addiction, such as benzodiazepines and related drugs such as zolpidem or zopiclone.

Medicines not to be used in alcohol addiction

A common type of sedative and sleep medication is benzodiazepines, such as Temesta, Xanor, Sobril and Flunitrazepam. If you drink alcohol and take benzodiazepines, there is a risk of poisoning or you feel very mentally ill. There is also a risk that you will become addicted to the medication. Therefore, you should not take benzodiazepines if you are addicted to alcohol. But there are exceptions. If you need help with withdrawal problems, these drugs may still be suitable for a short period. But then the treatment should be monitored by healthcare professionals.

Another sedative drug is clomethiazole, which is found in the medicine Heminevrin. This topic is also heavily addictive and addictive. Heminevrin should only be used in hospitals.

It is common for medicines such as Atarax, Lergigan or Theralen to be used to relieve anxiety or anxiety. However, these drugs are less effective than SSRI, SNRI or buspirone.

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