Pros and Cons of using Alcohol Detox Medications

Published: 11/19/2014 | Author:

Alcohol Use Disorder is a serious problem in the United States. Approximately 7.2 percent or 17 million adults in the United States ages 18 and older had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2012. Seeking help for Alcohol Use Disorder can lead to different options. Some of the options may be helpful, and some may be the wrong kind of help. Understanding that help is needed and why, and then understanding the different options available, such as alcohol detox medications, can make recovery a more successful process.

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Alcohol Use Disorders Are defined as having symptoms that include:

  • Drinking more, or longer than you intended
  • More than once wanted to or tried to cut down or stop drinking, but couldn’t
  • Spent an excess amount of time drinking resulting in aftereffects
  • a strong need/urge to drink
  • Found that drinking, or being sick from drinking often interfered with taking care of your responsibilities.
  • Found it hard to stop drinking even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, in order to drink
  • More than once gotten into risky situations (ex: driving, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)
  • Continued to drink even though it was contributing to you feeling depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem. Or had a blackout
  • Found that your usual number of drinks had less effect than before and had to drink more to get the desired effect

Those who suffer from Alcohol Use Disorder will find they encounter symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms can range in severity and onset, based on the individuals habits of drinking and changes to those habits. Symptoms that indicate withdrawal include:

  • Tremors/shakes
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • AW seizures
  • Alcoholic hallucinosis
  • Delirium Tremens (DT)

Detoxification is a set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal. The symptoms and methods of treatment are targeted toward the specific addiction being treated. Treatment can include support and therapy and can sometimes be accompanied by medications. There are pros and cons to adding medications to your treatment plan.

Pros of assistance derived from alcohol detox medications:

Alcohol Detox Medications

Alcohol detox medications can alleviate discomfort.

  • Symptoms can be lessened in severity and duration
  • Other conditions aside from the addiction being treated can be managed
  • A sense of comfort in the regiment can be bolstered by the medication
  • Specifically pharmacological treatment is often prescribed to aid in reducing anxiety, insomnia, and seizures

Cons of assistance derived from medications:

  • Incoordination (Ataxia)
  • Confusion
  • Over sedation
  • Aggravation of other conditions
  • Dosage issues

Until recently, the medications available treated only the symptoms of the withdrawal, and not the actual disorder. But advances in research appear to be changing the face of the options available to treat alcohol dependency. For the first time in alcohol addiction research – and a first in the entire field of addiction treatment — UVA investigators have successfully treated alcohol-dependent individuals with medication that is tailored specifically to match their genetic profile.

Find alcohol detox centers in your state by searching our directory, or call 866-351-3840(Who Answers?) to speak with a treatment specialist. 

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