Naltrexone has been approved by the FDA to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD) since 1995. It now has a long track record as a safe and highly effective medication and has helped many people quit or reduce their drinking. Naltrexone reduces the reward of drinking by blocking the release of endorphins.
How Does Naltrexone Work?
Alcohol stimulates the production of brain chemicals called endorphins, which calm the body in response to pain or stress. Endorphins then bind to opioid receptors in the “reward center” of the brain, triggering the release of dopamine, a brain chemical responsible for the pleasurable effects of alcohol.
Naltrexone prevents endorphins from taking effect by blocking off opioid receptors before any alcohol is consumed. This means that each time a person drinks on naltrexone, they experience no pleasurable response.
Naltrexone was originally developed to treat opioid addiction, and although alcohol is not an opiate, the effect of naltrexone is similar.
Originally a seizure medication, gabapentin can also help treat anxiety-related drinking, and reduce alcohol detox symptoms. According to studies, this medication may help you reduce how much and how often you drink alcohol.
An anti-seizure and migraine medication, topiramate appears to have helpful all-around effects regarding your brain chemistry and alcohol. It does this by stimulating and rebalancing parts of your nervous system negatively impacted by chronic drinking and blocking some of the dopamine rewards from alcohol.
Often used to treat muscle spasms, baclofen has also been shown to reduce some people’s motivation to drink. It likely does this by replacing the role of alcohol in the brain, making it easier to change your behavior around alcohol.
Any of these medications may help you at any stage of your recovery.
If you find it hard to control your drinking and that “binging events” become the norm in your weekend or get-together Heal@Home may be able to help. We offer evidence-based, comprehensive support for alcohol misuse—all from an app on your phone. You don’t have to identify as an alcoholic, or even quit drinking completely, to make heavy drinking a thing of the past.
Get in touch with us today, with no obligation, to learn how we can help you regain control of your drinking.