Alcohol Addiction


Alcohol addiction is the most common form of addiction currently present in the United States. According to statistics from the NIH in 2013, 16.6 million adults 18 or older met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, and nearly 697,000 young adults between the ages of twelve and seventeen met these same criteria. Nearly 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes each year in the United States alone, making it the third leading cause of preventable death. Are you or a loved one suffering from alcohol abuse? Continue reading below to learn more about treatment for this condition.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning that it actually slows activity within the central nervous system. It is typically used in cases of self-medication for people suffering from any range of pre-existing mental diagnoses. Chronic exposure to alcohol can cause major changes in the motivational and reward pathways in the brain, as well as decision-making.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual 5 (DSM-V) released in 2014, alcohol use disorders are primarily characterized by a grown tolerance to alcohol, as well as social and personal consequences from alcohol abuse such as cutting back on activities that are important to you due to alcohol. Two separate questionnaires are present to the right which can help to tell if a person’s alcohol use could be potentially harmful. (CAGE, AUDIT).

If you or a loved one suffer from an alcohol use disorder, there is hope! Recent advancements in the field of medication-assisted recovery have yielded several medications that can be used to ease the road to recovery. The primary medication utilized in our office is Vivitrol. More information on this medication is located below.

Vivitrol (Naltrexone)

Vivitrol is the brand name medication used for treatment of alcohol abuse, with naltrexone being its generic form. Vivitrol primarily works by blocking receptors in the central nervous system responsible for withdrawal symptoms in recovering alcohol-abuse patients. When taken regularly, it helps to lower if not completely remove withdrawal feelings, thus easing the transition into sobriety. It can ease the symptoms from alcohol and opiate withdrawal.

Vivitrol can be extremely taxing on the liver, and is thus not recommended for long-term use. The primary purpose of this medication is to assist in the transition to sobriety along with regular counseling services.

Vivitrol can be taken either a daily pill or as a monthly extended-release injection. In order to avoid extreme withdrawal symptoms, all alcohol use must be stopped for one to two weeks prior to receiving this medication. Common side effects can include nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, vomiting, and headache. Vivitrol should not be taken by anyone suffering from hepatitis.