The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved three drugs to help alcoholics stop drinking: Antabuse, naltrexone and Campral, according to WebMD. These drugs are more effective when combined with psychosocial treatments, such as the 12-step programs.
Antabuse interferes with the body's alcohol absorption ability by inhibiting the production of an enzyme that allows the body to absorb acetaldehyde, which is an alcohol breakdown product, explains WebMD. As a result, acetaldehyde accumulates in the body and causes side effects such as nausea, flushing, rapid heartbeat and vertigo, reports Columbia University Medical Center. Individuals who take this drug often do not drink to avoid these unpleasant reactions.
Naltrexone reduces the cravings and pleasure associated with alcohol consumption, states WebMD. It works by blocking endorphin receptors in the brain. Naltrexone helps reduce relapses to heavy drinking in patients. It is also available as a Vivitrol injection that patients can get once a month. It may help reduce cravings in patients with a family history of alcohol consumption, according to Columbia University Medical Center.
Campral helps patients stop drinking by reducing the effects of alcohol withdrawal, such as insomnia, anxiety and mood changes, reports WebMD. It restores the natural balance of the gamma-aminobutyric acid and glutamate neurotransmitter systems, which chronic consumption of alcohol often disrupts, explains Columbia University Medical Center.