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Medication Assisted Alcohol Treatment

April, 2009 marks the 22nd year of Alcohol Awareness Month.  

Tarzana Treatment Centers is participating with a series of articles meant to inform and educate the general public about alcohol abuse, dependence and treatment.  Considering that over 21 million Americans meet the criteria for alcohol abuse and over 53 million admit to past-month binge drinking, not to mention the many loved ones affected by each, our efforts are worthwhile.

Recovery from alcohol dependence is not easy.  In fact, very few of those in alcohol treatment will get sober and stay sober on their first attempt.  In most cases there will be at least one relapse into drinking before long-term recovery is achieved.  But for the “chronic relapser”, those who can’t seem to maintain any long-term sobriety, there is an answer called Medication Assisted Treatment.

Alcoholism is a body and mind disease, and cravings for alcohol are a major reason for relapse.  These cravings are strong throughout the early days of recovery from alcohol and tend to diminish in time, but they are a lifelong burden for an alcoholic.  

Naltrexone is one medication used to fight alcohol cravings by blocking the pleasure centers stimulated by alcohol use.  With no euphoric effect from alcohol use, there is no craving associated for the alcohol dependent brain and body.  In an alcohol treatment setting, this removes a major distraction so patients can concentrate on recovery once alcohol detox has cleansed the body.  

Vivitrol, the injectable form of Naltrexone, is offered as part of the treatment program at Tarzana Treatment Centers.  With each injection lasting 30 days on timed release, patients can focus on treatment of the mind instead of the body, and are less likely to leave treatment early and drink.

CNN.com posted a story about Medication Assisted Treatment on 4/15/09.  Some excerpts are below.  

-- Begin external content –

"It's like a little kid wanting a piece of candy. You see it, you want the taste of it." He closes his eyes and sniffs the air, remembering the feeling. "You can be by yourself, and all of a sudden get even a hint of alcohol, just the smell of it, and say, 'Oh, I need a drink.' That sensation is not something you can get rid of."

But today, Kent isn't tempted in the least. He says the credit goes to a prescription medication -- a pill called naltrexone.  It's part of a new generation of anti-addiction drugs that may turn the world of rehab on its head.

Among the findings that are causing excitement:

  • A federally funded study known as COMBINE compared cognitive-behavioral therapy alone with therapy along with naltrexone. Patients receiving both were more likely to stay abstinent and drank less if they did relapse.

These findings highlight what's become increasingly clear: Addiction is a brain disease, not just a failure of willpower. Naltrexone and topiramate have slightly different mechanisms, but both seem to block the release of brain chemicals that are linked to pleasure and excitement. Unlike earlier drugs used to treat alcoholics, neither is addictive or carries significant side effects.

-- Source: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/04/15/addiction.cold.turkey.pill/index.html --

For more information on Vivitrol, contact us via email at vivitrol@tarzanatc.org.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles makes a daily effort to find treatment news articles that we can share with our readers in the alcohol and drug treatment community.  The external content was found among other articles of equal informational and educational quality.




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